Do racial disparities in police contact intensify during a pandemic? While recent research suggests racial and ethnic minority groups experience disproportionately high rates of Covid-19 infection and death, no studies have systematically examined the degree to which law enforcement practices have simultaneously become more burdensome for communities of color. This project aims to study the relationship between racial segregation, urban inequality, and hyper-criminalization, and whether these factors are associated with inequities in police enforcement during a historic public health crisis. We study the changes to police practices by developing a novel dataset of police contact (arrests, police-investigated crimes, and 911 calls) from eight cities representing the four main regions of the US. Using temporal, spatial, and hierarchical modeling strategies, we aim to study patterns and inequalities in police contact before, during, and after the stay-at-home mandates were enacted. Over-policing and disparate practices have been shown to have significant health consequences and reduce public trust in the law. Through a study of publicly available police reports in a diverse set of cities, our project promises to yield new insights into policing in urban neighborhoods, with the goal of directly informing and advancing more equitable public health responses.
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Boston University
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University