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Contacts Between Police and the Public, 2015

NCJ Number
251145
Date Published
October 2018
Author(s)
Elizabeth Davis, BJS Statisticians; Anthony Whyde, BJS Statisticians; Lynn Langton, former BJS Statistician
Publication Type
Publication
Annotation

This summary report presents data for 2015 on the number and percentages of the U.S. population ages 16 or older who had any contact with police, by type of contact, and reason.

Abstract

Presents data on the nature and frequency of contact between police and U.S. residents age 16 or older, including demographic characteristics of residents, the reason for and outcomes of the contact, police threats or use of nonfatal force, and residents' perceptions of police behavior during the contact. Data are also provided on residents' perceptions of police behavior and police use of a non-fatal threat or the use of force, distinguished by race and sex.

Highlights
  • The portion of U.S. residents age 16 or older who had contact with the police in the preceding 12 months declined from 26% in 2011 to 21% in 2015, a drop of more than 9 million people (from 62.9 million to 53.5 million).
  • The number of persons experiencing police-initiated contact fell by 8 million (down 23%), the number of persons who initiated contact with the police fell by 6 million (down 19%), and the number experiencing contact from traffic accidents did not change significantly.
  • Whites (23%) were more likely than blacks (20%) or Hispanics (17%) to have contact with police.
  • Police were equally likely to initiate contact with blacks and whites (11% each) but were less likely to initiate contact with Hispanics (9%).
  • Police were more likely to initiate contact with males (12 percent) than with females (9 percent); however, females (11 percent) were more likely than males (10 percent) to initiate contact with police.
  • Of the 223.3 million people who experienced a police-initiated contact, 8.6 were driving a vehicle when the contact occurred.
  • Blacks (9.8 percent) were more likely than Whites (8.6 percent) and Hispanics (7.6 percent) to be the driver in a traffic stop.
  • A higher percentage of Blacks (1.5 percent experienced street stops than Whites (0.9 percent) and Hispanics (0.9 percent)
Date Created: October 10, 2018