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Reports of racially motivated, fatal shootings by police officers have garnered extensive public attention and sparked activism across the nation. New research from Michigan State University and University of Maryland reveals findings that flip many of these reports on their heads—white police officers are not more likely to shoot minorities citizens than non-white officers.
"Until now, there's never been a systematic, nationwide study to determine the characteristics of police involved in fatal officer-involved shootings," said Joseph Cesario, co-author and professor of psychology at MSU. "There are so many examples of people saying that when black citizens are shot by police, it's white officers shooting them. In fact, our findings show no support for the idea that white officers are biased in shooting black citizens."
Proceedings - National - Academy - Sciences - PNAS
The findings—published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS - are based on an independent database Cesario and his team created that catalogued each police shooting from 2015. The team—led also by co-author David Johnson from University of Maryland—contacted every police department that had a fatal police shooting to get the race, sex and years of experience for every officer involved in each incident. The team also leveraged data from police shooting databases by The Washington Post and The Guardian.
"We found that the race of the officer doesn't matter when it comes to predicting whether black or white citizens are shot," Cesario said. "If anything, black officers are more likely to shoot black citizens, but this is because black officers are drawn from the same population that they police. So, the more black citizens in a community, the more black police officers there are."
Data - Show - Bias - Behalf - Officers
The data show that it's not racial bias on behalf of white officers relative to black officers when it comes to fatal shootings, and that's good news. The bad news, Cesario said,...
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