Pennsylvania State Police troopers must report the gender, age, race or ethnicity, and ZIP code of the people they pull over, as well as whether the person exhibited “compliant or resistant behavior.”

Harrisburg, Pa. — Pennsylvania state troopers performed over 440,000 traffic stops in the state last year, with the results showing no discernible ethnic or racial bias.

The publicly-released data is being used to analyze where the State Police can improve, including rates of warnings, citations, arrests, and discretionary searches, racial disparities in traffic stop patterns, and other useful information. 

The data was reviewed and analyzed by Dr. Robin Engel, Senior Vice President of the National Policing Institute. Dr. Engel is a leading academic in the field of criminal justice and criminology with expertise in assessing police behavior, use of force, and police-community relations.

PSP began collecting traffic stop information voluntarily in 1999 and continued reporting the data through 2010. Then, PSP reinstated traffic stop data collection in 2021. They have been working with Dr. Engel since the initial decision to report traffic stop data in 1999.

“Dr. Engel and her research team analyzed demographic and other information gathered from more than 440,000 trooper-initiated traffic stops last year,” said Colonel Christopher Paris, Commissioner of the PSP. “The data shows our department has made great progress in these outcomes over the years, and we’re proud of the work our troopers continue to do. We appreciate the partnership with the National Policing Institute as we move forward with one of the most comprehensive and high-quality data collection efforts in the country.”

The report showed no detectable racial or ethnic disparities in warnings, citations, or arrests during traffic stops. Dr. Engel praised PSP as a role model for other police forces throughout the country.

“The Pennsylvania State Police should be commended for reestablishing their comprehensive, voluntary data collection system, and these findings should inspire confidence among Commonwealth residents toward the leadership and Troopers of the Pennsylvania State Police,” Dr. Engel said. “PSP’s rate of contraband seizures during discretionary searches is among the highest in the nation. Our review of the PSP’s criminal interdiction training also suggests that their focus on both effective and equitable practices is a promising approach and serves as a national model.”

The 2021 and 2022 reports are available to view publicly at psp.pa.gov.

“This data is a valuable tool in our toolbox as we strive to carry out our duties with integrity, respect and trust in accordance with our department’s core values,” added Colonel Paris. “Coupled with continued improvements in training, and our enhanced, more user-friendly, citizen complaint procedures, this data will help guide us as we provide the professional police services that residents of this Commonwealth not only expect but deserve.”

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