Reimagining Traffic Safety & Bold Political Leadership in Los Angeles: Council District 15
We analyzed data from the Los Angeles Police Department (2018-2020) in order to identify racial and class disparities in stops and arrests for each City Council District. Overall, our analysis found that people of color, primarily Black and Latinx Angelenos, are disproportionately stopped and arrested by the LAPD compared to White Angelenos, and that lower-income Black and Latinx communities are particularly overburdened by LAPD stops and arrests. We also frequently found a disproportionate impact on Angelenos identified by officers as another race, or ‘Other’, which relates to stop and arrest data being dependent on officers’ reports of race and ethnicity.1
While low-income communities of color carry the burden of over-policing, the particulars vary by City Council District. This profile examines disparities in LAPD traffic stops and arrests, specifically for vehicle code charges, for City Council District 15.
Racial Disparities in Stops & Arrests
All Angelenos have the right to live peacefully in their communities without facing unjust traffic stops. We analyzed data on LAPD stops and arrests related to vehicle code charges from 2018-2020 to examine the impact of racially biased policing by Los Angeles City Council District. We calculated the rate of stops and arrests by race and ethnicity, and compared the rates for Angelenos of color to the rate for White Angelenos.2
- Individuals whose race was listed as Other are stopped at a rate of 304.6 stops per 1,000 people. They face the highest stop rate in the district, and are 3.3 times more likely to be stopped than a White resident. Black individuals, with the second highest stop rate, are 2.6 more times likely to be stopped than White individuals.
- Vehicle stops of Black individuals make up 28.1% of all vehicle stops in District 15, while making up 11.6% of the district population. Latinx individuals make up 55.8% of all vehicle stops and 65.2% of the population. Stops of White individuals make up 12.0% of all vehicle stops in the district, while making up 13.0% of the District’s population.
- Individuals whose race was listed as Other were arrested at a rate of 2.9 per 1,000 people. They face the highest arrest rate in the district, and are 8.6 times more likely to be arrested than a White resident. Black individuals, with the second highest arrest rate in the district, are 4.3 times more likely to be arrested than White individuals.
- Arrests of Black individuals make up 34.6% of all arrests in District 15, while Black individuals make up 11.6% of the district’s population. Arrests of White individuals make up 9.0% of arrests in the district, while making up 13.0% of the District’s population.
- District 15 overall has a lower rate of arrests and a lower rate of stops than the City of Los Angeles.
Class Disparities in Stops & Arrests
Unjust and racially biased traffic stops can economically devastate communities of color by subjecting them to fines and fees that they cannot afford. This perpetuates cycles of poverty rooted in systemic racism endemic to our society. We analyzed LAPD stop and vehicle code charge related-arrest data (2018-2020) along with neighborhood poverty rates in order to examine class disparities in traffic stops and arrests. Neighborhoods were approximated pursuant to LAPD Basic Cars geographic units.3
We examined correlations of poverty rates to stop and arrest rates by race and ethnicity in each Basic Car. We specifically include only arrests for vehicle code charges related to Moving Traffic Violations or Miscellaneous Other Violations.
- In District 15, the overall poverty rate and traffic stop rate have a weak positive correlation, meaning that as poverty rates increase, traffic stops also increase. Arrests and poverty rate have a weak positive correlation, meaning that as poverty rates increase, arrests also increase.
- In the neighborhood with the highest poverty rate for Black residents (Basic Car 18A26), 58.3% of residents live below the poverty line and there was an annual average stop rate of 273.2 per 1k Black individuals each year. In comparison, in the neighborhood with the highest rate of poverty for White residents (Basic Car 5A17), 30.2% of residents live below the poverty line, and there was an annual average stop rate of 527.2 per 1k White individuals each year.
- Similarly, in the neighborhood with the highest poverty rate for Latinx individuals (Basic Car 18A26), 42.5% of residents live below the poverty line and there was an average annual vehicle stop rate of 54 per 1k Latinx individuals each year.
- Across neighborhoods in District 15, Black individuals have an average stop rate and poverty rate that are higher than the district average.
- Across neighborhoods in District 15, Black, Other, and White individuals have an average arrest rate and poverty rate that are higher than the district average.
Inefficiencies in Stops & Arrests
We also examined the effects of stops from an efficiency viewpoint. Traffic stops take up time and resources. Evidence of both inequities and ineffectiveness of traffic stops raises additional questions and concerns about how they are used and who conducts them. We explored the number of stops made by LAPD officers by Division, and the correlation, or relationship, between stops and arrests and traffic collisions.
Total Stops Conducted
Using vehicle stop data published by the LAPD, we analyzed the number of vehicle stops made each year by race and LAPD Division.4 Showing stops by Division, we see which Divisions conduct the most stops each year and which racial groups are most impacted by these encounters with law enforcement. The dataset published by the LAPD does not specify the reason for the stop. That detail is only available in the CADOJ’s RIPA data which is limited in its information about the officers (including the Bureau or Division officers are assigned to) and the place where the stop occurred.
- In District 15, the Harbor Division conducted the most stops between 2018 and 2020 with an average of 11,253 stops made per year. The majority of these stops were of Latinx individuals (64.8%).
- The South Traffic Division conducted the second highest number of stops with an average of 6,584 stops made per year. A larger share of these stops were of Black individuals compared to the Harbor division, 20.7% compared to 13.4%.
Stops & Arrests Compared to Collisions
We compared vehicle collision rates to stop and arrest rates at the Basic Car level to identify whether there is a positive relationship, or correlation, between the areas where traffic collisions and vehicle stops and vehicle-code related arrests occur.5 This analysis cannot determine causation, including whether stops and arrests have reduced or increased traffic collisions in an area. Rather, it can tell us whether we can expect stop and arrest rates to increase when traffic collisions increase, and vice versa.
We included Basic Cars that have the majority of their area in District 15.
- In District 15, there is a moderate correlation between vehicle collisions and vehicle stops that is lower than the city overall. This means that as vehicle collision rates increase in District 15, stop rates increase, but at a lower rate than citywide.
- In District 15, there is a moderate correlation between vehicle collisions and arrests for vehicle charges that is lower than the city overall and is statistically insignificant, meaning that we cannot say that the relationship between collisions and arrests in District 15 is not due to chance.
- For more information, please download our Detailed Methodology. ↩︎
- We focused on the rate for White Angelenos as the comparison given that overwhelming research on racially biased policing suggests White individuals are least impacted by police stops and use of force. Additionally, while other racial groups at times have lower rates, their rates may be underreported due to misidentification by officers or the lack of disaggregated data to capture disproportionate impact by subgroups, specifically Asian subgroups. ↩︎
- See more details about LAPD Basic Cars here: https://www.lapdonline.org/search_results/content_basic_view/6528. To see a map of LAPD Basic Cars, visit https://geohub.lacity.org/datasets/1c5090ae270f4d878ae108b0e87a4c37_0 ↩︎
- For a map of LAPD Divisions, visit https://geohub.lacity.org/datasets/031d488e158144d0b3aecaa9c888b7b3_0. For a full listing of all LAPD Division, see https://lapdonline.org/inside_the_Lapd/content_basic_view/1063 ↩︎
- LAPD Basic Cars are used to approximate neighborhoods. To see a map of LAPD Basic Cars, visit https://geohub.lacity.org/datasets/1c5090ae270f4d878ae108b0e87a4c37_0 ↩︎