Study: Body Camera Footage Reveals Officers Speak More Respectfully To Whites Than Blacks
STANFORD (CBS SF) — The odds of hearing a police officer say “thank you,” or utter an apology during a routine traffic stop in Oakland are much higher for a white driver than a black driver.
New research from Stanford examines the level of respect Oakland officers show through the way they speak to whites and blacks in the community. After examining body camera footage from hundreds of traffic stops, researchers found whites were accorded far more respect than blacks for similar infractions.
The study is the first of its kind and comes during an era of heightened awareness due to the proliferation of video recordings capturing the police shootings of unarmed black people across the nation. Oakland Police Department deals with a racially diverse community fraught with historical tensions. The department intends to use the data to help comply with a court-ordered mandate to reform.
In Oakland, officers turn on their cameras before each stop and keep them running for the duration. The Stanford team, comprised of linguists, psychologists and computer scientists, developed special software that examined the transcripts of 981 OPD traffic stops in a single month, scouring them for racial inequalities. The findings were published in the June edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
The results reveal that white drivers are 57 percent more likely than black residents to hear a police officer say the most respectful utterances, such as apologies and expressions of gratitude like “thank you.” Conversely, black drivers were 61 percent more likely to be disrespected with, for example, informal titles like “dude”, and “bro,” or commands to keep their “hands on the wheel.”