Bullock applauds PSP for new data reporting, wants to include more departments

HARRISBURG, Jan. 13 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., applauded the Pennsylvania State Police on its new wide-ranging data collection program designed to capture demographic and other information related to traffic stops, but would like to see this initiative expanded to municipal departments across the commonwealth.

“Last year, state Representative Rosemary Brown and I raised this issue on the handheld cell phone legislation,” Bullock said. “I’m very pleased to see PSP working on something like this and I hope to see this kind of initiative going further and being applied to all police departments across the commonwealth.”

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati will analyze the data to identify potential patterns of racial/ethnic disparities in policing. Based on findings, recommendations may be made to change PSP policy or training in certain areas.

Troopers statewide began documenting additional information during traffic stops on Jan. 1. They are collecting data on more than 30 fields, including driver and passenger age, gender, race and ethnicity, while also recording the duration of the stop, whether a vehicle search was conducted, and the results of that search.

“This is a very good first step to ultimately stopping the inequities in traffic stops and hopefully will deter aggressive or even deadly mishaps in the future once the data is analyzed,” Bullock said. “If the data shows bias, we will need to take action because this cannot continue.”

From 2002 through 2011, the state police conducted a similar data reporting program. Researchers with the University of Cincinnati then examined patterns and trends in traffic stops to better inform changes in policy and training. But the new program will benefit from advances in technology over the past decade.

“With the state of current relationships between police and the communities they serve, the collection of this type of information is relevant, even critical,” Bullock said.

The program runs through the end of 2021.