For all the data analysis conducted by The Courant, no other topic comes close to generating the reader reaction we receive when looking at apparent racial disparities in policing.
That was evident once again this week with the release of fresh police-stop data showing – as previous releases have – that statewide, black and Hispanic motorists are stopped and ticketed at higher rates than white drivers.
That led to a flurry of comments on The Courant’s website – more than 100 at last count – most of which took exception to any implication that police officers might be treating minority drivers more harshly. Some were simply self-disproving diatribes – posts that used overtly racist slurs in arguing that racism was non-existent. But others took aim at the statistical methodology applied, some raising legitimate points, others misinterpreting or making incorrect assumptions about the analysis applied.
So, as we have in the past, here’s a primer on the data collected by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project and on the Courant’s analysis of post-stop behavior, along with responses to the most frequent issues that are raised whenever we dig into this data. Continue reading
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra often insisted that race was not an issue in his unsuccessful battle with Luke Bronin for the Democratic mayoral nod. But balloting in Wednesday’s primary election suggests otherwise,with voting patterns highlighting the city’s division along racial and ethnic lines.
As the election map below illustrates, Bronin, represented by the green shading, was strong in precincts in the northern half of the city, while Segarra, represented by orange, did well in the south. The maps farther below, drawn from Census data, show that the city has a similar division racially and ethnically, with most black residents concentrated in the North End, and most Latinos in the South. (Click shaded areas in the election map for vote information and the Census maps for demographic details.)
While the final vote spread was 55 to 45 percent, voting in individual precincts was far more lopsided. Where the candidates won, they won big. Out of 24 precincts in the city, Bronin won seven with more than 70 percent of the vote. Segarra topped 60 percent in five precincts.
So Bronin captured the nomination by winning – and winning decisively – in predominantly black precincts, overcoming Segarra’s generally strong support in precincts with large numbers of Hispanics. Bronin also did well in the West End districts that are home to large concentrations of white residents.
On the campaign trail, Bronin frequently promised an administration that would work “for all of Hartford’s residents.” Wednesday’s vote could be an indication of how difficult it may be to unify all of the city’s constituencies.
Population concentrations in Hartford for Hispanics (above left), blacks (above right), and whites (below).
Last week, we wrote about an analysis of the newly released standardized test scores that offered some evidence of a widening gap in the Hartford area between historically high-performing school districts and those that have traditionally had below-average scores.
We’ve now expanded that analysis to all school districts in the state, and have found the same general trend: For most subject and grade groupings, school districts that exceeded the statewide average on a key measure of achievement in 2013, reported scores on the 2015 test that were even farther above the state average. Likewise, schools with below-average performance generally lost ground, falling farther below the statewide average.
In elementary school math, for example, among the 20 highest-performing districts two years ago, 18 had scores this year that were farther above the state average. Among the 20 lowest-performing districts two years ago, 16 dropped farther below the average.
Put another way, the above-average districts in 2013 outperformed the state by an average of 16 percent, while the below-average districts lagged the statewide figures by an average of 11 percent. But in 2015, the higher performing schools had widened their margin to 29 percent above the state average, while the lower-performing schools had dropped to 25 percent below the state average.
That’s what the numbers show. Divining what the numbers mean is a far harder task. Continue reading
Racial and ethnic disparities in policing has long been an uneasy topic in Connecticut and across the country. And that was reflected in reaction to a Sunday story in the Courant reporting that black and Hispanic motorists pulled over for traffic violations were more likely to receive a ticket than were white motorists pulled over for the same offense.
Many commenters and email writers were quick to challenge the findings, advancing a slew of reasons why the data or the analysis was flawed, and confidently assuring that there was a legitimate reason for any disparities in policing. Some raised legitimate questions. Others misunderstood the analysis.
The Courant performed a similar analysis in 2012 – and received a similarly visceral reaction from many readers. So as we did three years ago, here’s an elucidation on a few of the topics raised by readers.
The most common misconception was that the reported disparities simply indicate that black and Hispanic drivers violate traffic laws at higher rates than white motorists. “Could minority drivers commit more motor vehicle violations than non-minority drivers?” one poster asked. “No, this can’t be true. that would be racist.” Continue reading