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  • Cohort 2022

    The Defender Association of Philadelphia’s Police Accountability Unit

    Toward Driving Equality: Analyzing and Visualizing Philadelphia Police  Department Vehicle Stop Data 

    Philadelphia, PA

    In March 2022, the City of Philadelphia enacted the Driving Equality law, which bars police officers from pulling drivers over solely for certain low-level motor vehicle code infractions. A companion law mandates that the Philadelphia Police Department maintain a public dataset of all traffic stops, enabling Philadelphia’s communities, policymakers, and legal practitioners to see the law’s success—or areas for improvement. Analysis by the Defender Association of Philadelphia’s Police Accountability Unit was integral to the creation and passage of the law. That analysis showed that from October 2018 to September 2019, Black drivers experienced 72 percent of all Philadelphia Police Department traffic stops despite only making up approximately 40 percent of the population. Moreover, Black drivers were twice as likely to be searched as white drivers despite being 34 percent less likely to be found with contraband.

    With Catalyst Grant funding, the Defender Association will publish a data dashboard that will empower community members to understand racial disparities in car stops across Philadelphia. The dashboard, which will be automatically updated with the most current data available, will illustrate the intensity of police activity in neighborhoods across the city and show disparities in police stops by race, gender, and age. It will help policymakers, legal practitioners, and community members understand patterns in car stops since Driving Equality was enacted, identify policing trends and systemic issues across the city, and challenge the effective legality of racial profiling in car stops.


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