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Criminal Justice

We work to sparq change in criminal justice by using behavioral science insights to improve police-community relations.

Criminal Justice

Leveraging Stop Data

Leveraging Stop Data

Each year, nearly a quarter of Americans of driving age interact with the police during routine traffic stops. Black drivers, however, tend to be disproportionately stopped. In partnership, SPARQ, the City of Oakland, and the Oakland Police Department are advancing evidence-based approaches to unlocking the power of information officers already collect about traffic stops, known as “stop data.” This data can be used to reveal the impact of routine law enforcement activities on communities and to identify actionable ways to reduce racial disparities. Read our reports: Strategies for Change and Data for Change.

Innovating police trainings

Innovating Police Trainings

A Pew Research Center survey of nearly 8,000 police officers found that 86% report that their job has become harder in recent years, highlighting the need for effective and comprehensive training. At the same time, communities across the country are requesting that officers undergo more training about complex issues like implicit bias and the use of force. While the demand for training is high, relatively little is known about the content and efficacy of officer trainings. To address this need, SPARQ is partnering with law enforcement agencies in California to research, develop, and implement trainings to improve police-community relations. Read our white papers: Principled Policing: Procedural Justice and Implicit Bias Training and Principled Policing: A Path to Building Better Police-Community Relations.

Developing tools to analyze body-worn camera footage

Developing Tools to Analyze Body-worn Camera Footage

Research consistently shows disparities in how Black drivers are treated during routine traffic stops compared to White drivers. By working with the Oakland Police Department, an interdisciplinary team of researchers led by SPARQ Co-Director Jennifer Eberhardt developed a new method that turns footage from police officers’ body-worn cameras into a rich source of information about police-community interactions. Using machine learning, we leverage body-camera footage to take a deep dive inside police-community interactions, detect and study patterns, and develop strategies to make policing more equitable. This work is supported by the MacArthur Foundation. Read our research on the language and conversational sequence of traffic stops.

Leading policing forward

Leading Policing Forward

In recent years, law enforcement has been in the national spotlight in the U.S. There has been much critical attention focused on the challenges facing the industry - especially challenges around how law enforcement agencies interact with the communities they serve. In response, SPARQ is building a network of innovative law enforcement agencies in California to join together to find data-powered solutions and bring visibility to cutting-edge policing strategies designed to build trust with the community. Our work with these industry leaders is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

Image Credits

Diana Robinson / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Jamie Soja Photography

National Organization Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE)