Language from police body camera footage shows racial disparities in officer respect

Rob Voigt*, Nicholas P. Camp, Vinodkumar Prabhakaran, William L. Hamilton, Rebecca C. Hetey, Camilla M. Griffiths, David Jurgens, Dan Jurafsky, Jennifer L. Eberhardt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using footage from body-worn cameras, we analyze the respectfulness of police officer language toward white and black community members during routine traffic stops. We develop computational linguistic methods that extract levels of respect automatically from transcripts, informed by a thin-slicing study of participant ratings of officer utterances. We find that officers speak with consistently less respect toward black versus white community members, even after controlling for the race of the officer, the severity of the infraction, the location of the stop, and the outcome of the stop. Such disparities in common, everyday interactions between police and the communities they serve have important implications for procedural justice and the building of police-community trust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6521-6526
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume114
Issue number25
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 20 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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    Voigt, R., Camp, N. P., Prabhakaran, V., Hamilton, W. L., Hetey, R. C., Griffiths, C. M., Jurgens, D., Jurafsky, D., & Eberhardt, J. L. (2017). Language from police body camera footage shows racial disparities in officer respect. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(25), 6521-6526. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1702413114