Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Stop & Frisk in New York

The New York Police Department's controversial stop and frisk policy is often criticized. The biggest criticism is that it suffers from obvious racial profiling. For example, 90% of stop and frisk instances in 2017 involved African-American or Latino citizens. Stop and Frisk is a data visualization of NYC stop and Frisk data which has been created to "allow for exploratory data analysis on historical Stop-and-Frisk" records

Stop and Frisk includes heat-map visualizations of stop and frisk use in each New York borough. In truth the heat-map visualization for each borough isn't very helpful. I assume heat-maps have been chosen to show the locations in each borough where the most stops have taken place. In this respect the maps largely fail. A dot density or hex-bin map would provide a much clearer indication of where stop & frisks have most taken place in each borough.

The racial break-down of each borough (under each map) is more effective. These bar charts visualize the number of suspects involved in stop and frisk by race. These charts effectively reveal the extent that racial profiling has in police stopping and searching New York citizens. Or at least it would do if the site provided a little information on the data being used.

Data visualizations really should include information both about where the data comes from and what the data includes. Stop and Frisk doesn't appear to offer any information about where the NYC stop and frisk data comes from or what time period the data covers. Without this context the visualization isn't very usefu.

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