Published on Apr 17, 2020
Prof. Margaret Beale Spencer has been awarded a 2020 Faculty Seed Grant from the Social Sciences Research Center. Her project, "Assessing the Incidence and Quality of Police Encounters with Male Minority Youth via the Procedural Language Used in Police Broadcast Communications," is a unique experiment which utilizes broadcast police communications (BPC) to study the impact of policing practices on male minority youth and their communities. Using an archive of Chicago Police Department BPC, the research team will identify linguistic and spatial patterns associated with negative youth-police interactions. The study will provide a novel measure of law enforcement office-minority male youth interaction quality across a large number of interactions, characterizing the prevalence of adverse events relative to non-events. The synthesized communications data is an attempt to determine whether contextual effects shape institutional practices vis-à-vis procedural language. The project also seeks to provide proof of concept for a novel approach to the use of machine learning technologies to study qualitative data in the form of audio recordings, reflexive decision-making by institutional actors experiencing acute stress, and how language shapes in-the-moment decision making processes in instances of high uncertainty. This project will also generate new knowledge in automated speech recognition.