Traffic Enforcement through the Lens of Race: A sequential analysis of post-stop outcomes in San Diego, California

Research has shown that Black and Hispanic drivers are subject to disproportionate stop and post-stop outcomes compared with White drivers. Yet scholars’ understanding of how and why such disparities persist remains underdeveloped. To address this shortcoming, this article applies a sequential approach to the analysis of traffic stop data generated by San Diego Police Department officers in 2014 and 2015 Results show that despite being subject to higher rates of discretionary and non-discretionary searches, Black drivers were less likely to be found with contraband than matched Whites and were more than twice as likely to be subjected to a field interview where no citation is issued or arrest made. Black drivers were also more likely to face any type of search, as well as high-discretion consent searches, that end in neither citation nor arrest. The article concludes with a discussion of the findings and a series of recommendations.