These days, the news is full of numerous stories alleging that the police in this country are systematically discriminating against minorities. In particular, the dominant narrative seems to be that police shoot and kill minorities more frequently than they do white people.
Over the past several years, there have been dozens of high-profile cases involving white officers injuring or killing minorities. The mainstream media jumps to the conclusion that the officers clearly took action against these people because they were biased against members of a different race.
There was the Eric Garner case in New York, in which police restrained Garner, an African American, in a chokehold, which lead to his death.
In 2014, Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, which led to riots in the city.
In Baltimore, 25-year-old Freddie Gray was loaded into a police van and mysteriously ended up in a coma with a severed spine. He died from his injuries a week later.
All three men were African Americans that died in police custody.
Whenever these unfortunate situations arise, they are covered extensively by national news networks, so it is understandable why the public would think that there is widespread police brutality against minorities.
However, the statistics show otherwise.
Study Shows That White Police Officers Don’t Disproportionately Target African Americans
A new study disproves the media and Social Justice narrative that white police officers disproportionately target African Americans.
Professors Joseph Cesario and David Johnson (University of Michigan and University of Maryland respectively) conducted a study in which they spent over 1,500 hours creating a national database of information about all fatal police shootings in the U.S. in 2015.
They concluded that, contrary to popular belief, white officers were not more likely to fatally shoot minority civilians compared to black or Hispanic officers.
They wrote, “when all the officers that fired at a civilian were black, a person was 2.0 times more likely to be black than when all the officers who fired were white. When all the officers that fired at a civilian were Hispanic, a person was 9.0 times more likely to be Hispanic than when all the officers who fired were white.”
The other big takeaway from the study showed that community violent crime rates were more likely to determine what ethnic group was targeted.
According to the authors, “In counties where whites committed a higher percentage of homicides, a person fatally shot by police was 3.5 times more likely to be white. In counties where blacks committed a higher percentage of violent crime, a person fatally shot by the police was 3.7 times more likely to be black. And in counties where Hispanics committed a higher percentage of violent crime, a person fatally shot by the police was 3.3 times more likely to be Hispanic.”
They concluded by writing, “once crime rates were taken into account, civilians fatally shot by the police were not more likely to be black or Hispanic than white…Black Americans have no more contact with the police through greater involvement in violent crime, which at least partially explains why black Americans are shot by police at higher rates than their population representation in the U.S.”
That is not to suggest that there are no racially-biased killings by white police officers against minorities. However, this study and others show that there is not systematic police brutality throughout the country.
Where there is obvious targeting, those officers should be held accountable for their actions. However, those isolated cases don’t represent the whole, and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Most cops are good, hardworking people just doing their job. It’s time they get the credit they deserve.