Grossly misleading claims about black teens being “vastly more likely to be killed by police than whites even after adjusting for crime rates”

12 Oct , 2014  

Sometimes racial discrimination is occurring and should be pointed out, but sometimes false information is being used to unjustifiably inflame concerns. The claims being put forward by Slate and Pro Publica are simply very misleading. From Slate:

The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.” . . .

Could higher rates of crime commission by black teens relative to their white peers explain that difference? . . . The data suggest that the answer is no. . . . it looks like black Americans are between two and three times as likely to commit a violent crime as white Americans. But even assuming that black male teenagers are three times as likely as white teenagers to legitimately threaten the life of a police officer doesn’t explain why they’re twenty times more likely to be killed by police.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the material in the first quoted paragraph is correct. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to look at rates of killings by police of young black and white men but then compare it to violent crime for all blacks and whites. If you look at offender data and assume that 92 percent of murders are committed by males, you find that young black males were about 8 times more likely to commit murders than similarly aged white males. However, a lot of murders occur where the offender isn’t identified and that this problem is greater for gang related murders. To try to deal with this, we have made some calculations using victim data. Adjusting the data by the rate that blacks and whites kill members of their own and other races, young black males were 9 times more likely to commit murders than similarly aged white males. (Click on figures to enlarge the calculations made here.)
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The Slate piece claims that after adjusting for violent crimes by race, police still kill young blacks at 7 to 10.5 times the rate they kill young whites. Making this one adjustment would still leave a difference, but it would imply that police are killing young blacks at 2.3 times the rate that they kill young whites — about one-fifth to one-third the difference being claimed.

Yet, apparently the reporters at Slate and Pro Publica don’t understand the data that they are using, and even this difference could very well be the result of biases in the data that they use.

— Pro Publica acknowledges that police-involved death data is not complete. But there is a systematic bias in what data is missing. Generally most of this data is collected from urban areas. Obviously most deaths occur there, but these areas also tend to be heavily black.  The percent of the population that is black in areas reporting justifiable police homicides were 50.3 percent more black (17.8/11.8) than those jurisdictions that didn’t report these homicides.

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— If black murders are more likely to involve gangs and gangs are more likely to get into shootout with police, young black males would be more than 9 times more likely to commit murders than similarly aged relevant white males.

UPDATE: Politicizing Ferguson police shooting?

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39 Responses

  1. […] blacks, teenage crime is much more of a problem. Black male teenagers were nine times more likely to commit murders than similarly aged white males, not two to three times as […]

    • Lad park says:

      I can’t stop but wonder , if all this data is correct.

      Why black kids commit much much more crimes than whit kids in the first place?

      There are about 4.7 times more white people than black people. So there should be 4.7 times more white criminals than black criminals. But we all no that is not the case?

      Black kids are born with violent tendency than white kids? Does anyone really believe that ?

      • Dawson says:

        We don’t know why exactly that is. My best bet is the culture in poor black communities coupled with how many fatherless homes that tend to plague them.

        • ginardo napoli says:

          The percentage of unemployed young black men has always been north of 40% since 1970; whereas for caucasians it has always been less than 20% during the same time period.

          Couple this with the reality of the life experience with authority (police, school discipline) and declining community structure (single parent families etc.) and you get all the reasons why the percentages of black youth get involved in crime.

          However, there is also the increased policing which arrests more blacks for the same crime as any other racial group (not just white). So if you are black, and you oppsie do something young-and-stupid, … if you are non-black (asian, hispanic, and caucasian) you are twice as likely to get caught and sentenced to jail time.

          Why did you say “if blacks are more likely” because of gangs at the end of the post. It came out of nowhere and is not related to the table of data or the preceding statements. Are you trying to imply something?

          This is how the elite hold the carrot of pseudo-science before closet racists. I suggest everyone consult the studies by the FBI. Do a goggle “FBI studies police race” … don’t let the gremlins insert garbage into your brain.

          • CB Terry says:

            I find that question intriguing also, why do blacks commit more crimes. But not limiting myself, it has to be fairly clear.

            Many charge that the FBI & CIA have collaborated to control and sabotage black communities.. Where exactly are the gun factories and coca & opium fields in these neighborhoods?

            This coupled with constant vilification & humiliation by police, media, and American culture in general, and you may have a cause.

            Just a thought. Otherwise you are arguing genetics, and that is fairly dangerous.

          • James Mcgee says:

            Yes.. I think the difference between Europe and Africa unfortunately speaks volumes. White people can be a lot of things as a whole but somehow pull it together. Thank you Hitler and Stallen and the likes for keeping white people humble as all people sb. .
            How about your trip to Somalia? I dare anyone in their right mind to go there. Start your trip in Compton.
            The extreme example but a true example.
            It’s not white oppression. That worked 50 years ago but MLK, God bless him. Was right and still has the right idea of equality.
            Black white red yellow brown. We all have our strengths and weakness and a society of all black people is not a recipe for success.
            Get a dam job if you don’t have one.
            If you get turned down like we all do, go get a dam job if you don’t have one.
            If you’re in the hood? Leave the dam hood.
            Get on a bus and apply at McDonalds out of the hood.
            So tired of this bs. I’m Irish. Irish were hated when they came here. Asians were hated and are the most financially successful of us all. Mexicans are hated and work their asses off.
            There’s plenty of hard working black people but that’s not what black people are noted for and why is that?
            Worry about being better and not a victim.

      • Blacks are not more prone to these behaviors. If that was so I would not have 2 out of 2 black men in college right now. If you have police going through the black communities looking for drug activity, looking for people who dont wear a seat belt so they can stop them, ones that have a gun illegally and so on you are going to find them. When you find them they go to jail. If you hardly every see a police in a white neighborhood, hardly ever get those who have drugs, hardly ever get those who have illegal guns and no on then you wont have as many in that community in jail. The only time the police go in that community is when they are called. That is the difference. Black people and white people do the same amount of crime. Black people just get caught and don’t have lawyers because they can’t afford it. Whites generally have lawyers and get minor offences. Look at the statistics for crimes that people have gotten caught for. Statutory rape a white man will get 5 -10 and out on probation, blacks generally get live without parole, robbery whites get 10 year maybe and black get 20-life.

        The problem lies because no one want to see that there is a problem. If someone treated you bad time and time and time again eventually you are going to explode. The same with blacks. Our community have been complaining about how we have been treated for generation but no one wanted to listen. Its like a child. The only way you are going to truly look at a child is when they are misbehaving. That is what is happening.

        I am afraid for my children everyday. One has been roughed up by the police once while he was at college. I want my kids to have future. That same child have a BA and is working on his Masters. Again I pray everyday I see if again. The same with my 2nd son. I am afraid for him. I teach my children to respect all of their elders. My boys say yes maam and no maam and no on. That does not stop my fear. I have one more son to raise and this country is getting worse and worse.

        I got a question for you. What are you suppose to do when you are being mistreated and you have no one to turn to. People treat your culture like they wish it didn’t exist but you don’t feel like you did nothing wrong. The only thing you did was to be born. How do you fix that. How do you fix that fact that many in my culture feel like our lives dont matter and these are people who dont belong to BLM. They feel like we can go outside tomorrow and die and nothing will be done. we can’t own a gun legally because we are looked at as a threat. We can’t send our kids to the park and play with play guns because they get shot up by police. We cant make mistakes because we have the potential to die in jail. What are we suppose to do. Are we suppose to just sit down and don’t make a sound. Keep out kids in the house so they are not seen or herd. make sure the only time they are seen is when they are in school.

        What type of life is that for a child.

        • James Mcgee says:

          It may be dictated by a viscous cycle but yes, youre more prone to crime and violent crime as much as you’re more prone to being athletic and Asians are more prone to make more money.
          Accept your strengths and weaknesses as a cultural whole.

        • Jd says:

          Average hormone levels, body chemistry percentages, and cognitive function, amoung other things differ between races. These few things measurably effect the likelyhood of violent behaviour and attachment to others (like spouses & children). Understand these are averages and do NOT apply to any specific individual. But if we had an honest discussion, science shows races on average are different biologically & that can have some effects on crime statistics.

      • James Mcgee says:

        Yes.. I think the difference between Europe and Africa unfortunately speaks volumes. White people can be a lot of things as a whole but somehow pull it together. Thank you Hitler and Stallen and the likes for keeping white people humble as all people sb. .
        How about your trip to Somalia? I dare anyone in their right mind to go there. Start your trip in Compton.
        The extreme example but a true example.
        It’s not white oppression. That worked 50 years ago but MLK, God bless him. Was right and still has the right idea of equality.
        Black white red yellow brown. We all have our strengths and weakness and a society of all black people is not a recipe for success.

      • Rush says:

        How about slavery, denying them the vote in my lifetime, sitting on the back of the buss,KKK, the Republican Party, and allowing everyone military grade weapons.
        You Americans are a special sort of stupid.

        • amber jones says:

          Um…. You should really go read the real history of the last 180 years. It’s been the democrats who are the real racists. Even to this day. How you can pin it on republicans is absolutely insane. Look at who formed the KKK, who enacted Jim Crow laws, who voted against giving black men the right to vote, who voted against the civil rights acts, who created the “Great Society” welfare system that has torn apart the black community and is largely responsible for the rampant ignorance and poverty black people are more likely to face than other races. This hopelessness with lack of giving the black community and others a better chance to get out of the poverty cycle with job training and support to succeed is another example of the democrats keeping the black man on the proverbial democrat plantation. Making them a lifelong democrat generation after generation. Adding that and other factors in, you get an over amplified male ego and set it afire into society. No wonder why we have problems with young black males with crime and other factors.

          Have you ever talked to a black man that immigrates from Nigeria or Kenya to America? They say it’s the greatest place and opportunity they’ve ever had. They do not see any of the so called police racism, aggression, and intimidation that the black community claims is happening with police in general. Their take, commit a crime, give cops or civilized society problems, of course you’re going to get arrested or messed with by the police. I’ve also taken some classes at community colleges around Dallas/Ft Worth. There are a lot of these immigrants and others taking classes to get ahead in life so that they can make a decent living. They don’t complain that whitey and the gooberment is keeping them down. They know what they have to do to succeed. Most of them have an even bigger handicap by having to work 3-4 times harder to learn than the rest of us since they came from a 3rd world country and don’t quite get the grasp of some of the stuff being taught. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they succeed. Either way, they are grateful that they have the opportunity and continue to try to do better with their lives. These people are just a small example of people who are overcoming life’s obstacles that have been placed in front of them. Need more examples? I’ve got many of them. Herman Cain, Ben Carson, are just 2 off the top of my head. Oh wait. They arle republican. “they is uncle toms! They sold out to whitey to be in the mastah’s house”. Yeah. That kind of thinking is why the black community repressed and the democrat’s favorite group of sheeple.

      • Carlos Aguilar says:

        73% of Black Children are born out of wedlock, that’s where it all starts.

      • Jm says:

        Of course not….People don’t go straight from birth to adolescent criminal…..there’s 15 years in between that shape who the kids becomes……you grow up in a drug and violent infested community, without a father, (as most black kids do) there there’s a greater chance you will be a criminal

  2. Rob Schwartz says:

    Hi, Thanks for your writing on this, here and in NY Daily News. I don’t get your argument that the unrepresentative sample of police data, overrepresenting urban areas with a higher proportion of blacks, would overestimate shootings of blacks. The 21-times-greater estimate is based on a comparison of proportions: (police killings of blacks/total blacks)/ (police killings of whites/total whites). Right? If we are comparing these proportions, the racial makeup of the population shouldn’t matter, right? So whatever the demographics of the population, 10% or 90% black, “equitable” policing killings should produce a ratio of 1. Hopefully, I’m being clear enough. The only problem I see with the urban bias of the data is that it is a mistake to use it to generalize to the whole country, but this isn’t because of the proportions of the demographic makeup per se. It would be great if you could clarify this point for me.

    I agree, the abuse of this statistic in the media has been very frustrating. Your other argument is just the one I wanted to make, but I did’t know the murder rates for young men. Thanks.

    • TW says:

      What he’s saying is, for an apples-to-apples comparison, the numbers that you’re coming up with have to match.

      The 21x rate is based on 15-19 year old males who live in the selection of police jurisdictions that report data on officer- involved shootings. Those jurisdictions are also heavily biased toward urban areas, and not even proportionally-representative of the population, given that ~50% more blacks and 2x as many Hispanics live in those jurisdictions relative to other jurisdictions across the US.

      So to make a useful comparison against violent crime rates, you’d need to calculate the violent crime ratio for 15-19 year old males who live in the urban areas that report police-involved shooting data for that part of the equation as well – not overall rates for the entire population.

      Otherwise, you’re comparing apples-to-oranges, and the data is worthless for the purpose of drawing useful conclusions.

    • Tom King says:

      why are the police at the scene of the shooting. They don’t just roam the streets looking for a black to kill. They are at the scene to help someone protect themselves and their family from harm and a lot of that harm is the black who the police shot.

    • James Mcgee says:

      Just call bs and no one needs to apologize for calling bs.

  3. johnrlott says:

    Dear Rob:

    The problem is that you have the ratio of blacks and white teenage males killed from just one percent of police departments and you are trying to infer what the national ratio is from that one percent of departments. If that one percent of departments isn’t representative of the rest of departments, there is no reason to believe that you can draw national implications from that number. For example, what if the department that you had data for served a virtually all black population? Would you be surprised that blacks were more likely to be killed than whites? Presumably not. That is the general point.

    • Tom T. Hall says:

      The shootings by police which receive the must media coverage tend to occur in areas
      of the nation which have a disproportionately
      higher number of Black citizens than the
      other areas of the country, and thus a higher number of confrontations between police and Black males, and a higher number of crimes committed by Black males. Further, the bias of the media
      reporters contribute to fanning the
      hatred toward the police by not reporting
      pertinent facts such as the Black man
      who was shot is a convicted felon in
      possession of an illegal firearm.

  4. Warren Nickerson says:

    Will someone please inform me of the number of unarmed Black people killed by police who had not committed a crime at the time of the deadly confrontation with police. It is not sufficient to simply roll out the statistical differences in crimes rates between white and black populations, at some point chewing gum or raising your voice may become justifiable for killing unarmed Americans!

    • Henry says:

      I agree that the discussion here doesn’t really address the issue of a racial disparity in the use of force, since the comparison of crime rates and so forth doesn’t tell us anything about whether or not a police shooting was actually justified.
      That statistics and data for this kind of thing are not even kept track of in most of the country should tell us a lot IMO.
      Whether a police killing is “justifiable” basically hinges on whether or not it was *necessary* to protect the officer’s life or the lives of innocents…and the comparison of crime rates tells us nothing about this…

  5. […] which is the study group, are only killed 2.3 times more than for Whites. Because they are also 9 times more likely to commit murder. We also learn from that […]

  6. […] Massey never mentions certain self-evident considerations: e.g., that young black males commit violent crimes at a ratio of 7 to 1 relative to their white counterparts; that most violence against blacks is […]

  7. RS says:

    Warren, The question is whether cops using lethal force are discriminating against blacks. We’d need data on both blacks and whites to make a comparison– your question only asks for data on blacks. ProPublica’s report was very misleading because of its omission of the discrepancies in crime rates between blacks and whites. I can’t even think of what the use of ProPublica’s 21-times statistic is. Taking into account how frequently members of each group are acting in ways that put them at risk of getting shot by police is necessary to come up with a meaningful statistic. Lott provided the most precise estimate to this question that I know of.

    I think that taking into account the discrepancy in murder rates is sufficient for making an inference about whether cops are discriminating against blacks in their use of deadly force. But besides the problems with the police shootings data already mentioned by others, I could see two possible criticisms: (1) The data on murder rates is biased so that the gap between whites and blacks appears wider than it really is. (2) We are using murder rates as a proxy for risky behavior that causes the person to get shot by the police, perhaps murder rates are not a good proxy. Regarding (1), I think the US’s crime data is pretty solid. I’m not an expert but my understanding is that our two data sources (one from crime reports, one from victimization surveys) corroborate each other well. Regarding (2), I see no reason to think murder rates are not highly correlated with the type of behavior that gets one shot by the police.

    Here’s a sociologist’s blog post that links to some studies that might interest you: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2014/12/26/chart-of-the-week-63-of-white-people-are-wrong-about-ferguson/. Her own argument is a muddle though. She seems to be conflating three question: (1) Are African American men more likely to engage in risky behavior generally (like robbery or murder) that increases their chances of getting shot by police? (2), Are African American men more likely to engage in risky behavior in their interactions with police? (3) Are police biased against blacks in their use of deadly force?

  8. […] The news becomes full of officer involved shootings that raise awareness of black people being shot by the police. Facts are misrepresented. Reporting is biased. […]

  9. ernie cohen says:

    The relevant statistic is that while Black youths are about 20 times more likely than White youths to be killed by police, they are also about 20 times more likely to be killed by people other than police. So this statistic in fact argues that police are *not* discriminating against Blacks (in choosing who to kill) than society at large is.

    • jbrown says:

      Exactly. But it also seems to point to several other things such as training and evaluation for the police force leaves something to be desired. Or that Our monitoring of our Justice system is highly inadequate. Or the fact that “Blacks” are a minority and that they are just as likely to harm those of their own races as someone not of their own races. And the fact that crime rates are statistically higher in high black populations though they are a minority and also that due to this, white crimes it is more likely that their will be excessive police force used in theses situations. This date is clearly inconclusive but the current racial climate has created even more of a need to remain unbiased and look at what is really going on here because it is larger actually than race or even police-on-civilian crime. Frankly, why do we not have better systems in place to track what is really going on and needed to keep our communities growing and thriving without fear and misunderstanding? Shouldn’t the police be reporting all of their incidences in all places and not just where crime is high? Of course reported black shootings are higher because frankly, it is only the jursidictions in which the minority population is high that is reporting these statistics. We can only eradicate this problem if we have full and accurate information. If it really is a racial prejudice towards minorities then we need to figure out why we are employing people to protect people they are afraid of inherently. If it is not a racial prejudice and more of an issue of general fear and power from the line of work they do then we need more stringent evaluation of not just physical ability but emotional and mental fortitude and reasoning. You can not protect me if you are afraid. We need better information.

  10. […] Young black men are in more danger around other young black men than the police. This is because gang violence rates as well as […]

  11. Joe says:

    Nice try. Go eat a doughnut or something, you fat shits.

  12. […] Grossly misleading claims about Black teens being “vastly more likely to be killed by police t… […]

  13. Sactowntruth says:

    I am white and the odds of me being shot by the police are nearly zero.

    I pay plenty of taxes for police protection but their is something lacking where I live….the police.

    With no police officers near me, the chance of being pulled over is zero. No contact with the police and that makes it zero chance of being shot. Sound a little silly? It is, but it is true. Where are the cops? In high crime areas, I don’t know who told them to go there but it turns out, they spend all their time there doing something. I don’t try to spend too much time there but when I do, I know my chances of getting pulled over go up. Want to look like a statistical geneious? Tell the experts you did the math and if you never have a cop anywhere near you, your chances of getting pulled over are zero.

    To be honest, I just had a cop show up the other day, I found a wallet on the street with hundreds of dollar and several credit cards, I.d. and being this is California, a medical marijuana card so I called the police to pick it up and they were at my house in 15 minutes.

    You can play with stats all you want, like blacks are responsible for killing cops at around 40% and yet are only 13% of the population. But what does that really tell us? They have more contact or they commit more murders?

    We could play the statistics game all day long and blame racism for everything. I like the California incarceration rates per 100,000 residents the most. I see it a lot and notice the media always has this fabulous stat that blacks are incarcerated at a rate of 4,367 per 100,000 and whites at 488.

    Oh, those stats used by your college professor, media outlets, civil rights groups, anti this or pro that groups. They point to those stats as proving, without any idea on how it proves anything but proving racism in our justice system.

    But at the bottom of their stats, not mentioned, just simply overlooked, hidden from public view by the likes of C.N.N. or your favorite professor teaching us about race is this little tiny stat.

    Asians incarceration rate per 100,000 was 34. No, not 3,400 or even 340, just 34. A small fraction of the rate for whites.

    So, if racism causes the difference between blacks and whites, are whites victims of racism by the justice system too?

    Or, are we seeing something far more powerful at hand, something so simple, but a game changer for the racism excuse crowd. Is it, could it, are we just seeing less crime by one minority group? How can it be? The system was set up by racist whites to benefit themselves and harm blacks so what was so foolishly done by the whites they would harm themselves and make Asians look so much less likely to commit crimes?

    Oh, they did the same for test scores too in school. They managed to somehow do the same for median household income. What the heck, unemployment is lower for Asians than whites? Brilliant, just brilliant these white folks are, they created a system where they come in second place.

    I think too many people get away with too much b.s. when it comes to using stats. Just skip the stats and give us your biased view, I will respect you more for it.

    • Heinz Kiosk says:

      While they are about it, the BLM activist and the college “oppression studies” professor could ponder the fact that while men form only 50% of the population, above 95% of the people shot by the police are men. So men are above 10x as likely to be shot by police as women. Why do the police hate men so much? Why have the men who control everything set up a system that oppresses men? The answer to this conundrum is obvious and doesn’t violate PC expectations of what it is allowed to say…. Men get into violent confrontations with police far more often than women. No-one sane would deny such an obvious conclusion. But try stating the obvious; that high crime areas in the USA are cities with a large black population (who murder each other at an enormous rate, dwarfing the efforts of the rest of the population including the police at red-handed murder), and in such areas the police are constantly likely to have a fraught encounter that may end in bloodshed… Of course the police stop and search black people a lot more than white people. When they go to an area with a high level of reported crime they see a lot of black men in the street. This isn’t rocket science and it isn’t the fault of police, but representative of a wider societal problem.

  14. Tonez says:

    This entire website is clearly created to continue to help white people feel better about racism in America. When you throw in information about ‘blacks’ and ‘gangs’ without reference you confirm that leaning. Black people are victimized by police more than me or you. Get over it. Stop whining that people what equal rights to live their lives and help them!

    • liz says:

      Thank you Tonez.

      I think what’s missing is WHY police are killing black me at the rate they are. A lot of these men do not pose a threat to police. Not until now, you don’t really hear of black men going around shooting police. We don’t come from that. Actually, the black on black crime rate shot up enormously in the early 90’s due to the heroin/crack eras that were put into our communities from the Nixon campaign to criminalize black people and make hippies look like drug heads. Please google Nixon official confesses….if you don’t believe me. We didn’t do heavy drugs nor did we sell them. Then the rap music because very violent when NWA came on the scene and that criminalized our men which was intentional by the private prison and music executives. You guys like #’s but you still don’t understand. Blacks want equality. Even with the affirmative action in place, which helps white women more than ANY minority, we still face institutionalize racism as well as being shut out of opportunities to help us become the productive citizens you claim we’re too lazy to be. Don’t’ forget Jim Crow laws that still have an affect on our people TODAY. While we’re on crime…think about all the white people that got a pass or slap on the wrist by white policeman who are family members or judges that allow white people to face lesser sentencing vs. blacks who are more liking to be to face a harsher sentence for “SAID” same crime.

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