Traffic stops in the pacific northwest: Competing hypotheses about racial disparity

Richard G. Greenleaf*, Wesley G. Skogan, Arthur J. Lurigio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study examines the distribution of police traffic warning citations in a large northwestern city. Warning tickets were instituted to document the exercise of police discretion in the disposition of traffic stops. The paper tests three competing hypotheses about how these citations are distributed: law enforcement, traffic enforcement, and group threat. The findings show greater support for the group threat explanation. African Americans were disproportionately ticketed in the more affluent areas of the city with a higher per capita income and a higher percentage of home ownership. The data also demonstrated that traffic officers were more active than patrol officers in predominately white beats while patrol officers concentrated more on African American and Asian areas of the city.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


  • African Americans
  • Citations
  • Race disparity
  • Traffic stops

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Law


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