Assessing police officers' decision making and discretion in making traffic stops in Savannah, Georgia, 2002 [electronic resource].

Data file
Ann Arbor, Mich. : Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006.
Extent of collection: 1 data file + machine readable documentation (PDF) + SAS setup file + SPSS setup file + Stata setup file.


Restrictions note
Use of these data is restricted to Princeton University students, faculty, and staff for non-commercial statistical analysis and research purposes only.
Summary note
This study aimed to fill a void in the research regarding police behavior by focusing on the formation and creation of cognitive suspicion by officers. The study also examined formal actions (stops) taken by the police pursuant to that suspicion. The study was conducted using observational research methods and collected quantitative and qualitative data on officer suspicion. Data were collected by observers who rode along with patrol officers from April 2002 to November 2002. Field observers used three major data collection instruments in order to gather as much relevant information as possible from a variety of sources and in diverse situations. The Officer Form was an overall evaluation of the officer's decision-making characteristics, Suspicion Forms captured information each time an incident occurred, and a Suspect Form was a compilation of data from the citizen who had the encounter with the officer. Additional documents included informed consent forms, a card detailing the language to be used for the initial contact with citizens, and hourly activity forms. Anytime a suspicion was formed or a formal action was taken after a suspicion was formed, the observer debriefed the officer as to his or her thoughts and elicited the officer's overall rating of the encounter. Data in this collection include general demographic characteristics of the officer and the suspect, as well as the area in which the suspicion was formed. Data was also gathered regarding what led the officer to form a suspicion, and why a person was or was not stopped.
  • Codebook available in print and electronic format.
  • Title from title screen (viewed on December 15, 2010).
Type of data
Extent of collection: 1 data file + machine readable documentation (PDF) + SAS setup file + SPSS setup file + Stata setup file.
Time and place of event
  • Date(s) of collection: 2002-04--2002-11.
  • Time period: 2002-04--2002-11.
Geographic coverage
Geographic coverage: Georgia, Savannah, United States.
Funding information
Funding: United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice 2001-IJ-CX-0035.
System details
  • Mode of access: World Wide Web.
  • Extent of processing: ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: standardized missing values. Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.
Methodology note
  • Data source: coded on-site observation.
  • Sample: the sample consisted of 49 patrol officers, totaling 132 tours, on all three shifts in each of the Savannah Police Department's four precincts, who agreed to allow student researchers to ride along with them during their shifts. The captain or lieutenant on duty would randomly assign students to an officer. The captain or lieutenant was asked, for example, to select the fifth officer on the duty roster. If that officer was not assigned to patrol that shift, or was absent, then the name of the officer above and then below on the roster was selected.
  • Universe: patrol officers employed by the Savannah Police Department from April 2002 through November 2002.
Rights and reproductions note
Restrictions: the data are restricted from general dissemination. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Data Transfer Agreement Form and specify the reasons for the request. A copy of the Data Transfer Agreement Form can be requested by calling 800-999-0960. The Data Transfer Agreement Form is also available as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file from the NACJD Web site at Completed forms should be returned to: Director, National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Institute for Social Research.
Cite as
Alpert, Geoffrey P., Roger G. Dunham, Meghan Stroshine, Katherine Bennett, and John MacDonald. ASSESSING POLICE OFFICERS' DECISION MAKING AND DISCRETION IN MAKING TRAFFIC STOPS IN SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, 2002 [Computer file]. ICPSR04340-v1. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina [producer], 2004. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-01-16.
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