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State police collect data to ID disparities

Chrissy Suttles Beaver County Times USA TODAY NETWORK Pennsylvania State Police have launched a new data collection program designed to identify patterns of racial and ethnic disparities in policing.

Col. Robert Evanchick, Pennsylvania State Police commissioner, said state police began collecting information such as driver and passenger age, gender, race and ethnicity during traffic stops on Jan 1. — regardless of whether the encounter results in a citation or written warning.

Troopers record the duration of the stop, whether a vehicle search was conducted and the results of that search, as well.

The data will be analyzed by researchers at the University of Cincinnati to identify potential patterns of racial and ethnic disparities in policing.

'Troopers take an oath to enforce the law ‘without any consideration of class, color, creed or condition,’ and this data collection effort is one way to show the public we are upholding that oath,' said Evanchick. 'Regular and ongoing analysis by a neutral third party is a critical part of this program that emphasizes our department’s commitment to transparency and continuous improvement.'

State police previously conducted a contact data reporting program from 2002 to 2011, and researchers with the University of Cincinnati examined patterns and trends in traffic stops to better inform policy.

The new program will benefit from a decade of technological advancements and an ongoing conversation about the relationship between police and the communities they serve.

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