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Police Bias in the Enforcement of Drug Crimes: Evidence from Low Priority Laws

Gregory DeAngelo, R. Gittings (), Amanda Ross () and Annie Walker
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Annie Walker: University of Colorado, Denver, Department of Economics

No 16-01, Working Papers from Department of Economics, West Virginia University

Abstract: We consider the impact of adoption of a low priority initiative in some jurisdictions within Los Angeles County on police behavior. Low priority initiatives instruct police to make the enforcement of low level marijuana possession offenses their “lowest priority.†Using detailed data from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a difference-indifferences strategy, we show that the mandate resulted in a lower arrest rate for misdemeanor marijuana possession in adopting areas. However, the lower relative arrest rate is driven by a spike in the arrest rate in areas not affected by the mandate rather than a reduction in adopting areas.

Keywords: drug crimes; enforcement; police bias; laws (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law and nep-ure
Date: 2016-03
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