Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings"

The NY Times reviews new research that challenges beliefs about racial disparities when it comes to police shootings and use of force.

A new study confirms that black men and women are treated differently in the hands of law enforcement. They are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police.

But when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias.

“It is the most surprising result of my career,” said Roland G. Fryer Jr., the author of the study and a professor of economics at Harvard. The study examined more than 1,000 shootings in 10 major police departments, in Texas, Florida and California.

[snip] - For these results and more, read the entire Times report.

For Mr. Fryer, who has spent much of his career studying ways society can close the racial achievement gap, the failure to punish excessive everyday force is an important contributor to young black disillusionment.

“Who the hell wants to have a police officer put their hand on them or yell and scream at them? It’s an awful experience,” he said. “Every black man I know has had this experience. Every one of them. It is hard to believe that the world is your oyster if the police can rough you up without punishment. And when I talked to minority youth, almost every single one of them mentions lower-level uses of force as the reason why they believe the world is corrupt.”

Whatever weaknesses there are (or are not) in the research, it reinforces the need to treat gun violence as a public health issue that warrants a significant research effort.

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