Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Economics, PhD

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gregory DeAngelo

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Matthew B Ross

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

CarlyWill Sloan

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Crime, Economics, Law and Economics, Policing


In recent years, a number of high-profile policing controversies have led to global indignation over racial disparities in policing and perceived police brutality. This paper explores three different dimensions of race in policing. The first chapter of this dissertation examines whether the presence of female and minority police officers affects the likelihood of police use of force and whether officers are more or less likely to use force against civilians of a different race. Focusing on a subset of 911 calls resulting in arrest, I use an instrumental variables estimation method with dispatch availability by officer race/gender as an instrument for the presence of different officer types. I find that the presence of a female officer significantly reduces the likelihood that force is used. Calls involving white officers and black civilians are significantly more likely to result in use of force. The second chapter uses data on 7.5 million police-civilian interactions made by 1,663 Texas Highway Patrol officers to estimate the impact of five mandatory police trainings on the racial composition of traffic stops and racial disparities in related outcomes. The five trainings considered are (1) Cultural Diversity; (2) Arrest, Search & Seizure; (3) Racial Profiling; (4) Traffic; and (5) Deescalation. We exploit quasi-random variation in the timing of when individual officers receive training and estimate a series of event study models. We find that training has little to no effect on policing behavior in terms of either racial composition or stops or related outcomes. In general, our findings cast serious doubt on the ability of policymakers to use training as an effective intervention for combatting longstanding disparities in law enforcement. The third chapter examines whether externally-imposed affirmative action plans designed to increase the shares of nonwhite and female police officers have impacted the rates of reported offenses and/or offenses cleared by arrest. Using a series of modern econometric strategies including difference-in-differences decomposition and generalized synthetic controls, we do not find a significant effect of court-imposed affirmative action plans on the rates of reported offenses or reported offenses cleared by arrest. We also consider whether unlitigated agencies change their practices due to the threat of litigation but are unable to identify causal evidence of such threat effects.