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Totals, hometowns key to computations

By Bill Dedman, Globe Correspondent and Francie Latour, Globe Staff, 1/6/2003

    On city boulevards and rural lanes, whites and women are far more likely to receive written warnings instead of tickets when stopped for identical traffic offenses, according to a Boston Globe study of newly released state records.


Police plan public meeting

Chiefs deny racial profiling

Civil rights advocates laud plan

Police chiefs decry study

Racial profiling is confirmed
Northeastern study [PDF]
Report summary
Who got a passing grade?
Police response [MS Word]

Police flouting 'no fix' law on tickets

Profiling study cites dozens of locales Charts
Northeastern study [PDF]

Reilly starts push to end profiling in police stops

Boston police to get tough on tickets

Judge: Suspect must stay in jail

Seeing bias, evidence tossed

Deeper look at profiling

Funding urged for study

Ticketing cited despite curbs

Romney backs profile tracking
People asked to join task force

Chief: Glitch caused error

Task force to review data


Day 1:
Race, sex, and age drive ticketing
Minority officers are stricter on minorities
Boston to track all stops by police

Who gets fined for speeding
Minority officers
Most-favored status
One officer's week

Ticketing whites vs. minorities
Large departments | All

Ticketing women vs. men
Large departments | All

Day 2:
Punishment varies by town and officer

How tickets raise insurance
Ranking the departments
Littering is worse?

Toughest on speeders
Large departments | All
Locals vs. out-of-towners
Large departments | All

Day 3:
Troopers fair, tough in traffic encounters

Frequent ticketers
How fast can you go?

Editorial: Tickets to fix
Op-Ed: Looking deeper
Op-Ed: Study proves nothing
Profiles in prejudice


Q & A
Secretary of Public Safety Edward A. Flynn, the senior law enforcement official in Massachusetts, spoke with the Globe about this series. Q & A

Detailed report
A closer look at how the Globe analyzed hundreds of thousands of traffic tickets.
Download study
This .PDF document requires Adobe Acrobat

Online chat
Globe reporter Bill Dedman chatted with readers about this series.
Read full transcript


In January, the Globe published the first results of its analysis.

Part 1:
Citations reveal disparity
Totals key to computations

Tracking tickets
Searches by race and age

Searching minorities more often
Ticketing their own

Part 2:
Police not pressed on race
Tewksbury cop is tops
Fridays worst for tickets
Scope of monitoring reduced

Where race was not recorded

Failing to record the race
Searching more cars

Drivers already know one of the difficulties in calculating which races are disproportionately ticketed: You can get a ticket when you're out of town. As a result, the race of people ticketed can't be compared directly with a town's racial mix.

For its state-sponsored study of traffic tickets in Massachusetts, Northeastern University's Institute on Race and Justice plans to deal with this problem by including people from surrounding towns in determining each town's racial mix.

The proximity to other towns, and major roads running through a town, would increase the weight given to the race of other towns. The institute's study is expected this spring.

The Globe took two approaches:

First, the newspaper focused on the number of people searched, as a percentage of the people ticketed. Both are known quantities.

Second, in looking for disparities in ticketing, it focused on drivers ticketed in their hometowns, so the race of the ticketed can be compared with the race of the driving-age population in that town.

To protect the privacy of drivers, the Registry of Motor Vehicles withheld the names and home addresses of drivers. The year of birth was given, so an age could be roughly calculated. And the home ZIP code was given, so the driver's residence could be determined.

The records also show the police officer's ID number; traffic offenses charged; drug offenses charged; the vehicle year, make, and model in some cases; and the date, time, and town where the ticket was written.

The records do not show the address where the ticket was written; what the officer was searching for; whether consent for the search was sought or given; whether anything was found in the search; or the officer's race, sex, and age.

This story ran on page A7 of the Boston Globe on 1/6/2003.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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