Safety and Justice
Congressional Newsletter
Periodic updates to Congress on RAND's work in safety and justice

How Can the LAPD Improve Its Recruiting?

LAPD recruits

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is in the middle of a five-year hiring plan to increase the number of sworn officers by a 1,000 and achieve a force strength of more than 10,000 officers for the first time in its history. The economy's dramatic shift in the last year resulted in a large increase in applicants, but a tight city budget threatens progress. The LAPD has made substantial progress, yet recruiting has been operating close to the margin, often meeting the quota at the very end of the month. Also, the LAPD needs to meet diversity goals stipulated by court orders.

A RAND Corporation study sought to help the LAPD in achieving its recruiting and diversity goals by finding ways to improve productivity and efficiency in the recruiting process. RAND researchers identified untapped labor markets near the city's limits that merit more attention from recruiters and also recommended the LAPD customize its marketing efforts in different media and venues to improve diversity among recruits; for example, female and black candidates report greater exposure to recruiting events than do white and Hispanic males, making such events a relatively cost-effective way to recruit such candidates.

RAND researchers also developed statistical methods that identify key applicant characteristics associated with successfully completing the recruiting process. These characteristics have been combined into a "RAND priority score" that LAPD now uses to triage incoming candidates, focusing recruit mentoring and background investigative resources on the most promising candidates.

Finally, researchers found that the city personnel department can harness additional productivity and efficiency in its recruiting processes by integrating background investigators and personnel analysts into collocated investigation teams with monthly production targets and a single database to track cases.

READ THE REPORT: To Protect and to Serve: Enhancing the Efficiency of LAPD Recruiting
READ THE RESEARCH BRIEF: Improving Los Angeles Police Department Recruiting

Is Racial Profiling in Law Enforcement Declining?

police officer by car that's been pulled over

The recent incident in which black Harvard Professor Henry Gates was arrested while trying to enter his own house has brought the issue of racial profiling by law enforcement to the forefront. But while racial profiling has been an ugly reality in the past, are we making progress in curbing its use today? Part of the problem in answering this question has to do with how we determine whether racial profiling is actually taking place. Blacks may be being stopped disproportionately to nonblacks in cities, but does that mean that racial profiling is occurring?

RAND researchers have pioneered approaches to answer this question credibly and applied them to studying racial profiling in traffic stops in Oakland and Cincinnati and pedestrian stops in New York City. And the results all point to the same conclusion: While blacks are stopped more frequently than nonblacks, when researchers compare blacks to nonblacks and make sure that they are similar in terms of when, where, and why the stops took place, there is for the most part no evidence of widespread racial profiling.

The final report for the five-year assessment in Cincinnati—which summarizes the results across the data on traffic stops from 2003 through 2008—provides the longest view yet and, again, finds no evidence of racial profiling departmentwide in Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) officers' decisions to stop drivers, but does find some evidence of racial disparities at the individual officer level for ten officers.

The study also analyzed data of what happens after stops take place and found that in recent years, black and nonblack drivers, in similar circumstances, have similar stop outcomes. They have an equal chance of being searched, an equal chance of having a short traffic stop, a smaller chance of receiving a citation, and, when searched, an equal chance of being found with contraband.

The evidence from the Cincinnati study, which corroborates what researchers saw in the Oakland and New York City studies, indicates that progress has been made, despite the circumstances surrounding the Gates arrest. Still, this progress does not negate the fact that issues remain that can exacerbate the perception of racial bias. In Cincinnati, for example, the burden of policing falls disproportionately on black residents, both in being stopped and in what happens after the stop. As a result, there are still substantial gaps between how black and nonblack residents view the CPD.

READ THE REPORT: Cincinnati Police Department's Traffic Stops: Applying RAND's Framework to Analyze Racial Disparities
READ THE COMMENTARY: The Decline of Racial Profiling
READ THE RESEARCH BRIEF: Do NYPD's Pedestrian Stop Data Indicate Racial Bias?
READ THE TESTIMONY: Summary of the RAND Report on NYPD's Stop, Question, and Frisk
READ THE RESEARCH BRIEF: Assessing Racial Profiling More Credibly

RESEARCHER PROFILES

Greg Ridgeway

Greg Ridgeway

Greg Ridgeway is the director of RAND's Safety and Justice Research Program and director of RAND's Center on Quality Policing, charged with managing RAND's portfolio of work on policing, crime prevention, courts, corrections, and public and occupational safety. On policing issues, Ridgeway has worked with several major police departments including police-community relations in Oakland, Cincinnati, and New York and effective recruiting in San Diego and Los Angeles. He is currently managing a consortium, consisting of six of the nation's largest police agencies, that funds and guides RAND's policing research. Ridgeway has also studied gang and gun violence, examining the formation of gangs in Pittsburgh, a replication of Boston Gun Project in East Los Angeles, and an examination of the sources of illegal guns in Los Angeles. He is currently working with the US Federal Courts analyzing the public defense caseload.

Read more about Mr. Ridgeway »


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Lindsey Kozberg
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Shirley Ruhe
Director, Office of Congressional Relations

Jennifer Warren
Safety & Justice Legislative Analyst

RAND Office of Congressional Relations
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