Age matters: Race differences in police searches of young and older male drivers

Richard Rosenfeld, Jeff Rojek, Scott Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Prior research on police searches of motorists has consistently found that Black drivers are more likely to be searched than White drivers. The authors argue that race differences in police searches depend on the driver's age. In logistic regression and propensity-score matching analyses of St. Louis police traffic stops, the authors find that young Black males are subjected to discretionary searches at higher rates than are young White males. By contrast, among drivers age 30 and older, Black males are no more likely, and in some analyses are less likely, than White males to be subjected to a discretionary search. The study findings are consistent with studies of young Black males' negative experience with and attitudes toward the police. If replicated in future research, however, the findings suggest that it may be difficult to prove that police searches of young Black males result primarily from racial bias or unlawful discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-55
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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