After the Stop: Exploring the Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Police Use of Force During Terry Stops

Weston J. Morrow, Michael White, Henry Fradella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Questions surrounding stop, question, and frisk (SQF) practices have focused almost exclusively on racial and ethnic disproportionality in the rate of stops, and whether police are engaged in racial profiling. This near-sole focus on the stop decision has overshadowed important questions about the use of force during Terry stops, resulting in a major gap in our understanding of the dynamics of SQF encounters. The current study addresses this issue through an examination of the nature, prevalence, and predictors of use of force during Terry stops using the 2012 SQF database of New York Police Department (NYPD; N = 519,948) and data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Results indicate that use of force was an infrequent event in NYPD stops (14%), and weapon force was quite rare (.01%). However, hierarchical multinomial logistic regression models show that Black and Hispanic citizens were significantly more likely to experience non-weapon force than White citizens, while controlling for other relevant situational and precinct-level variables. The findings suggest that minority citizens may be exposed to a racial or ethnic “double jeopardy,” whereby they are subjected to both unconstitutional stops and disparate rates of force during those stops. The study highlights the importance of expanding the focus on SQF beyond the racial profiling lens, as questions about the dynamics of police use of force decision-making raise equally important social and legal concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-396
Number of pages30
JournalPolice Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • NYPD
  • ethnicity
  • police use of force
  • race
  • stop and frisk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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