Really No Racial Bias in Police Shootings?
Quoctrung Bui and Amanda Cox recently reported on "Surprising New Evidence [that] Shows [No] Bias in Police . . . in Shootings" (New York Times, July 11, 2016):
[W]hen it comes to the most lethal form of force - police shootings - the study finds no racial bias[, a finding that surprises everyone] . . . . "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 . . . . The result contradicts the image of police shootings that many Americans hold . . . . The counterintuitive results provoked debate after the study was posted on Monday, mostly about the volume of police encounters and the scope of the data. Mr. Fryer emphasizes that the work is not the definitive analysis of police shootings, and that more data would be needed to understand the country as a whole . . . . Mr. Fryer . . . . decided . . . to collect a bunch of data and try to understand what really is going on . . . . He and student researchers spent about 3,000 hours assembling detailed data from police reports . . . . They examined 1,332 shootings between 2000 and 2015, coding police narratives to answer questions such as: How old was the suspect? How many police officers were at the scene? Were they mostly white? Was the officer at the scene for a robbery, violent activity, a traffic stop or something else? Was it nighttime? Did the officer shoot after being attacked or before a possible attack? One goal was to determine if police officers were quicker to fire at black suspects . . . . [I]n these 10 cities involving officers, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white . . . . [These] results undercut the idea of racial bias in police use of lethal force.As already noted, this study has surprised everyone - not least of all me. For more surprises, read the entire, nuanced article. But just one point before you go. Note the following statement:
[Police] officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white.This does not mean that there is no "racial bias in police use of lethal force. Rather, it means that there is racial bias against whites.
That is the surprising thing.