After six months of data collection and analysis, the Mercyhurst College Civic Institute has completed a racial profiling study of the officer-initiated stops made by City of Erie Bureau of Police.
The Civic Institute will release its findings at a press conference scheduled for noon on Monday, April 15, in the Trustees Board Room, 419 Hammermill Library, on the Mercyhurst College campus.
The press conference will include statements by Dr. Thomas Gamble, director of the Mercyhurst College Civic Institute; Erie Mayor Rick Filippi; Dorothy Smith, president of the local chapter of the NAACP; Joseph Weindorf, director of public safety for Erie; and Ron Davis of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers. A limited number of reports will be available for media.
In May 2001, Erie contracted with the Mercyhurst Civic Institute to assist with the design and analysis of a study of racial profiling. The city agreed to conduct the study after several months of meetings between the city, the Concerned African American Clergy and the NAACP.
The analysis completed by the Civic Institute is based on police officer-initiated stops of motorists and pedestrians occurring between Sept. 1, 2001, and Feb. 28, 2002. It examined stops by race and ethnicity, reasons for stops, location of stops, whether searches were conducted, reasons for searches and whether contraband was found subsequent to the search, among other variables.
The data was collected by scannable data entry forms completed by police officers after each of their self-initiated stops. The data was electronically transmitted to Mercyhurst so that the Civic Institute could complete its analysis. The final data file used for analysis included 2,164 vehicle stops and 94 pedestrian stops.
The Mercyhurst Civic Institute is a non-academic department within the college that is dedicated to the social, educational and civic well-being of the Erie region. Its goals are to facilitate citizen participation in decision-making; provide high-quality, objective information to assist local decision-making; convene community forums to encourage reasoned and open discussion of regional issues; educate the region about various issues through Institute reports; and facilitate research, learning, teaching and service opportunities for the Mercyhurst community.