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An Empirical Analysis of Representative Bureaucracy: The Case of Police Vehicle Stops

  • Sharon Gilad, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Thursday 15 February 2018
FGGA Research Seminars
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague

Research Seminar

Does passive representation translate into active representation? Current research indicates that minority police officers’ responsiveness to minorities’ interests and grievances is inhibited by group pressure to display their loyalty to their “blue” identity. Using over two million observations of police officer/driver contacts from four different US locations (Florida, Los-Angeles, Charlotte and Louisville), we present a series of empirical analyses comparing African American and Caucasian police officers’ inclination to ticket, search and arrest drivers amidst routine vehicle stops. In accord with extant research, we find that African American police officers (compared with Caucasian police officers) are less inclined to “do nothing” and more likely to use less aggressive enforcement powers (citation/ticketing). However, contrary to the portrayal of minority police officers as eager to display their success as crime fighters, we find that African American police officers are relatively disinclined to employ more aggressive policing practices (search and arrest) towards drivers of all ethnicities. The main results survive a battery of robustness checks. These findings suggest that African American police officers embrace a distinct role perception as police officers, with regard to more intrusive practices, which we associate with their identification and life experiences as minorities in society and within the police. This distinct role perception enables the translation of passive representation into active representation.

There is no paper for this seminar.


Sharon Gilad is Associate Professor at the Federmann School of Public Policy and Government and the Political Science department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is also an associate editor of Public Administration. Her research bridges public administration, new institutional theory, regulation and agenda setting perspectives. Gilad is also specialized in mixed-methods research. Her research has been published in journals such as JPART, Governance, Public Administration and Regulation and Governance.  

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