Understanding the Effects of Anti-Profiling Policies

Document Type


Publication Date



Many police agencies have enacted measures designed to reduce racial profiling, yet little empirical evidence exists regarding the effects of such programs. This article uses the occurrence of a racial profiling scandal in New Jersey to quantify the effect of a move toward race‐neutral policing. The scandal and subsequent reforms led to an estimated 16–33 percent decrease in annual arrests of minorities for motor vehicle theft. I also present evidence that, as policing against minorities decreased, motor vehicle theft increased in areas populated by minorities. My implied elasticities do not suggest that minorities respond to policing intensity differently than the general population. New Jersey data generate little strong evidence of additional adverse responses by minorities to lessened police scrutiny. The findings are robust to a number of specification checks, and similar patterns are observable in Maryland, a state that experienced a profiling scandal several years before New Jersey.

Publication Title

Journal of Law & Economics