Horrace receives grant to extend research on race and traffic stops

William Horrace William Horrace, Distinguished Professor of Economics, has been named a W.E.B Du Bois Scholar and will receive a research grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to deepen his exploration of patterns of racial bias found in the Syracuse Police Department.

Horrace’s DoJ-funded study will build upon his previous research assessing racial bias among Syracuse police officers during traffic stops. He began this analysis in 2005 and revisited the topic in 2010 and 2016. His last round of analysis leveraged differences in the race-visibility of drivers across day and night to determine that Syracuse Police use race as a factor in traffic stops. The study, published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, took into account the effect of streetlights on driver visibility at nighttime and the fact that the racial mix of drivers varies with clock time.

The new research will move beyond incident metrics, seeking instead to understand the causes of racial bias. Horrace will analyze the impact of officer experience and exposure (to African-American drivers) on their proclivities for bias. He will also explore whether officers transfer these proclivities to other officers, while controlling for environmental factors such as race composition and crime rates in Syracuse neighborhoods. Horrace will also be mentoring a PhD student in the econometrics of police behavior.

The National Institute of Justice, which administered the grant under the DoJ, supports research that explores race and crime, and encourages scholars to analyze “the confluence of crime, justice, and culture in various societal contexts.” Previously funded projects include a study on the ways that race matters to the general public’s understanding of crime and justice, and research on whether perceptions of race impact support for progressive social policy. 

William Horrace is a Distinguished Professor of Economics and a senior research associate at the Center for Policy Research. His research specialties include econometrics and crime and policing. Horrace is on leave from Syracuse University this semester and is currently serving as a visiting scholar at the Consumer and Community Affairs Division of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., where he is developing econometric techniques to assess how well U.S. banks provide services to low- and middle-income communities under the Community Reinvestment Act.