Police Frisks

Abstract

The standard economic model of police frisks implies that the contraband hit rate should rise when the number of frisks falls, ceteris paribus. We provide the first empirical corroboration of such models of police behavior by examining changes in frisks following the killing of George Floyd in 2020. We find that hit rates from pedestrian frisks rose as police frisks fell dramatically. Using detailed data, we rule out several alternative explanations, including changes in street population, crime, and police allocation. Our findings provide quantitative estimates that can contribute to the important goals of improving and reforming policing.

Publication
AEA Papers and Proceedings, 112 (pp178-83)
Priyanka Goonetilleke
Priyanka Goonetilleke
Graduate Student

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. My research interests are in Empirical Law and Economics, focusing on the criminal justice system. In fall 2024, I will join Northwestern Pritzker School of Law as the Marti Family Fellowship Visiting Assistant Professor of Law.