Much more Coverage of CPRC Research: “Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects?”

30 Nov , 2016  

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A copy of our new study is available here.  The previous coverage that we got at Fox News is available here.

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PoliceOne.com, Friday, November 18, 2016

A new study authored by the Crime Prevention Research Center digs deep into the data during a period that ‘bookends’ the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson

The death of Michael Brown in August 2014 caused millions of dollars in property damage locally, and precipitated the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement nationally. Further, it focused scrutiny on law enforcement by the press, the public, and the political elites. Following that fatal OIS in Ferguson, there has been a widespread perception — perpetuated by the mainstream national media — that white police officers are biased against black subjects in their use of lethal force.

However, a new study authored by John Lott and Carlisle Moody of the Crime Prevention Research Center digs deep into the numbers to demonstrate that this assertion is inaccurate. The study examined data from 2013 to 2015, which represents 19 months prior Brown’s death, and 16 months after the incident. In short, the study found “no statistically significant difference between shootings of black suspects by black and white officers.”

Because there are myriad data sets explored, a thorough review of the entire text is strongly recommended. However, because the 32-page document is filled with 13 “eye-chart” data tables and is peppered with terms like “logit model,” “binary dependent variable,” and “unobserved heterogeneity,” a summarized version of the highlights is merited in this space.

Digging deep into the data
Lott and Moody examined a total of 2,699 fatal police shootings for the years 2013 to 2015. “This is 1,333 more killings by police than is provided by the FBI data on justifiable police homicides,” the study stated.

Lott and Moody noted that while the CDC and FBI collect data on police shootings, they miss many shootings, in part because not all jurisdictions provide data. Further, very important data is left out of the CDC and FBI data, such as race of the officer and the race of the subject. There is also a lack of information on the incident — such as whether or not the suspect presented a threat meeting Graham standards.

“In only about 31 percent to 35 percent of the cases does the FBI have data on the age, race, and gender of the person killed,” Lott and Moody wrote. “By contrast, we have this information for 100 percent of our cases.” . . . .

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Hot Air, November 21, 2016

If you’re not familiar with the work of John Lott (@JohnRLottJr on Twitter) and the Crime Prevention Research Center then you haven’t been paying attention. John is the author of The War on Guns (which I previously reviewed here) and countless studies on law enforcement data from across the nation. He and his partner, Carlisle Moody, have released a new study which digs into the details of (and the myths surrounding) one of the most common themes we hear in the mainstream media when it comes to lethal force encounters with law enforcement: white cops are more likely to shoot black suspects than those of other races. If you’ve been following the actual news and numbers from the FBI and law enforcement units around the nation you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the data just doesn’t support that assertion. (Fox News). . . .

There is some evidence that black officers are more likely than white officers to shoot black suspects, but there is no evidence that the reverse is true.

This was something of a wildly unexpected data point. I can’t even fathom a guess as to what might account for this, but the actual difference in the number of cases is small enough that it may just be an expected statistical aberration. What’s more revealing here is the amount of work that John had to do to assemble these numbers. The reason is that the media is very quick to point out when an officer is white if a black suspect is shot, but it’s rarely mentioned if the officer is black. The team had to go and dig up department photos in many cases to ascertain the race of the officers involved. Similarly, when a white suspect is killed in a lethal force encounter, race is also rarely mentioned if the incident receives any media attention at all. (Another oddity, since the majority of suspects killed by the police are still white.)

The more police officers who are on the scene, the less likely that a shooting will occur. This could be because criminals are less likely to attack police when more police are present.

Their initial guess here sounds about right, but additional factors may be in play while being impossible to quantify. Yes, even an armed suspect may hesitate to engage in a gun battle when he’s outnumbered by a significant margin as opposed to a situation where he feels he may be able to take down one or two cops and have a chance of escaping. There could also be a factor (in the rare instances where you find an actual racist, bad apple among the cops) that they will be more hesitant to act out of line with more of their colleagues watching. Either way, it’s just another interesting data point.

Contrary to the push by the Obama administration, body cameras don’t make a difference in the rate of shootings

This shouldn’t be too surprising given that the vast majority of cops aren’t looking to shoot anybody unless it’s the course of last resort. The major benefit of body cameras is not to somehow “shame the cops” into not murdering people, but to provide video evidence in the aftermath to establish precisely what happened rather than relying on frequently faulty (or intentionally dishonest) eye witness testimony. The bottom line here is that nearly all the police act the same whether they are being filmed or not.

Unionized police departments are more likely to shoot black suspects

Anyone have a guess as to what the heck this one means? First of all, I wasn’t aware that we had any significant number of cops who aren’t represented by a police union except in really small, rural towns. But what impact that would have on their reaction to a violent suspect is a mystery to me. It could just be another statistical anomaly.

There’s plenty more in the report, so give it a look. As usual, the truth is turning out to be considerably different than the portrayal you’ll be fed on MSNBC or the pages of the New York Times.

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The American Conservative, December 1, 2016; Swarajya, December 1, 2016

A bit before Thanksgiving, John Lott and Carlisle Moody of the Crime Prevention Research Center released new research on race and police killings, finding, among much else, “no statistically significant difference between killings of black suspects by black and white officers.” It’s received a handful of light, friendly writeups in conservative outlets while being ignored in the mainstream media.

That’s a shame, for two reasons. One, the study rewards careful, critical reading—I often found myself pausing to consider exactly how Lott and Moody had set up their analysis and what, precisely, we can infer from the results. And two, the authors freely posted their data online so anyone who wants to can reanalyze it.

To understand what Lott and Moody did, it helps to contrast their study with a widely reported previous one by Harvard’s Roland Fryer. Fryer had extremely detailed data on police interactions from Houston, including how the suspect behaved and whether he was killed. This allowed Fryer to answer the question: if a white suspect and a black suspect behave the same way, is the black suspect more likely to be shot? There are obvious problems with relying on data willingly provided by a single police department, but the results themselves were pretty easy to interpret. Fryer found no evidence of bias in lethal force—though, using different data, he did find bias in non-lethal force.

The Lott/Moody approach is very different. There are no data at all on non-lethal interactions; all their cases are incidents where people were killed. So what they do is look for correlations within those data, asking questions such as: Are white cops disproportionately involved in shootings of black suspects? Among people killed by white officers, are blacks more likely to be unarmed? . . . .

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National Review Online, November 21, 2016

A study by the Crime Prevention Research Center’s John R. Lott Jr. and economist Carlisle E. Moody at the College of William and Mary finds that white police officers may be less likely than their black counterparts to use deadly force against black suspects. This study has not received much attention in the media, but the pair’s findings align with previous studies that indicate racism does not play a significant role in the deaths of black Americans at the hands of police. It also found no evidence that body cameras affect “the number of police killings or the racial composition of those killings.”

The Black Lives Matters movement has staked their claim on the assertion that police “hunt down” black Americans or systematically deprive them of life. Activists have charged that racism led to the deaths of Michael Brown, Philando Castile, and others, but Lott and Moody examined 1,333 more cases than are in the FBI data set and their findings show that white officers’ use of force is generally “race neutral.”

They gathered statistics that expand on the FBI data from the same period, incompleteness of which has limited previous studies, and they provide a more general picture than even Fryer, who studied eleven localities and drew conclusions about officers’ use of lethal force from Houston alone. Those surprised by Fryer’s findings should appreciate the efforts by Lott and Moody to provide data that is more generalizable for the entire country. . . .

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Law Officer, November 17, 2016

Among the findings of the investigation released Thursday by the Crime Prevention Research Center: White police officers are not significantly more likely to shoot black suspects; body cameras have had little effect on decreasing police killings; the more cops at the scene, the less likely it is a suspect will be shot.

The study examined data from 2013 to 2015, a time period which almost perfectly bookends the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014, an episode that helped lead to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and placed increased scrutiny on police shootings. Yet, the research team of John Lott and Carlisle Moody found the percentage of black suspects killed in the 19 months before Brown’s death (24.8 percent) was almost exactly the same as the percentage killed in the 16 months after Brown’s death (25 percent).

Lott and Moody examined 2,699 police killings from more than 1,500 cities during the three-year time span — including 1,333 killings not recorded in the FBI’s official data. To gather the most precise information, the researchers scoured LexisNexis, Google, official police data and online databases.

The resulting spreadsheet also listed the race for suspects and officers. Putting together the racial component proved to be one of the more difficult tasks.

“News stories tend to not mention the race of the officer when the officer is black, because most of the black officers we found we found by looking at department photos, not news stories,” Lott said. “That was not true of white officers.” . . .

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The Daily Caller, Friday, November 18, 2016

A team of researchers discovered that most news stories tend to mention the race of a white officer when covering police shootings, but not mention the race of a black officer.

The Crime Prevention Research Center released a report Thursday purportedly showing that white officers are not that much more likely than black officers to shoot black suspects.

As the research team gathered information on the races of officers and suspects, they realized that most news stories did not mention the race of a black officer if he was involved in a police shooting.

“News stories tend to not mention the race of the officer when the officer is black, because most of the black officers we found we found by looking at department photos, not news stories,” researcher John Lott Lott told Fox News. “That was not true of white officers. . . .

When major media outlets reported on the shootings of two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, they had a tendency to elevate the white race of the officer who shot Sterling, and downplay the race of Officer Jeronimo Yanez’s race, the man who shot Castile. (RELATED: Media Outlets Bury Ethnicity Of Cop In Minnesota Shooting)

The Washington Post ran a headline mentioning the white officer’s race in the Sterling shooting, but didn’t mention Yanez’s race until halfway through the article.

The New York Times also led a trend of burying the race of a black officer and emphasizing the race of the white officer. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: WaPo, NYT Lead Trend Of Emphasizing Race Of White Officer, Burying Race Of Black Officer)

A random sampling of 11 New York Times articles on the Tulsa shooting reveals that 63 percent of them mention the officer’s white race and the victim’s black race in the same sentence. Meanwhile, out of 10 random articles on the Charlotte shooting, only 40 percent mentioned that the officer involved was black.. . . .

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Breitbart.com, November 26, 2016

A new study by John R. Lott, Jr. and Carlisle E. Moody shows that black crime suspects are more likely to be shot by black cops than by white cops.

Lott is president of Crime Prevention Research Center and Moody is a professor of economics at William and Mary.

In conducting the study, Lott and Moody looked at “2,699 observations of police killings from over 1,500 cities in the United States from 2013 to 2015.” . . .

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Powerline, November 19, 2016

a new study by John Lott, Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center and Carlisle Moody of the College of William and Mary. The two scholars developed a database for police shootings nationwide from 2013 through 2015. Their database is significantly larger and more detailed than the data available through the FBI.

Lott and Carlisle found that white officers are significantly less likely than black officers to kill black suspects (see page 14). They also found no evidence that body cameras affect either the number of police killings or the racial composition of those killings. . . .

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Crime and Consequences, November 18, 2016

John Lott, Jr., of the Crime Prevention Research Center and Carlisle Moody of the College of William and Mary have released a study mentioned below in the News Scan which found that black suspects are more likely to be shot by black police officers and female police officers than by white police officers.
After developing a database for police shootings nationwide from 2013 through 2015, which is larger and more detailed than the data available through the FBI, Lott and Carlisle rigorously tested against several variables to reach the central finding.  Another finding appears to disprove the effectiveness of body cameras at reducing shootings. . . .

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Canada Free Press, November 21, 2016

You know that massive rash of racist police shootings in which white officers shoot black suspects just because they’re black? Right. Neither do I. Because a few overhyped videos presented by the media without context don’t prove that any such thing is happening. Of course, that’s not stopping gullible celebrities and athletes from protesting and declaring “this isn’t right.” There is no solid information to suggest that a “this” even exists, but when you’re engaging in very public moral preening, you’re not going to let that stop you.

But what might stop you is some actual data that proves the whole thing is a gigantic hoax. And two researchers – John R. Lott Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center, and Carlisle E. Moody of the Department of Economics at the College of William and Mary – now offer us that very thing:

Using a unique data set we link the race of police officers who kill suspects with the race of those who are killed across the United States. We have data on a total of 2,699 fatal police killings for the years 2013 to 2015. This is 1,333 more killings by police than is provided by the FBI data on justifiable police homicides. When either the violent crime rate or the demographics of a city are accounted for, we find that white police officers are not significantly more likely to kill a black suspect. For the estimates where we know the race of the officer who killed the suspect, the ratio of the rate that blacks are killed by black versus white officers is large — ranging from 3 to 5 times larger. However, because the media may under report the officer’s race when black offic-ers are involved, other results that account for the fact that a disproportionate number of the un-known race officers may be more reliable. . . .

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Guns.com, Friday, November 18, 2016

A study released Wednesday by the Crime Prevention Research Center purports no racial bias in police shootings.

Dr. John Lott, an economist who researches gun violence and author of “The War on Guns,” says in the 34-page study it’s impossible to disprove what he calls the racism hypothesis — that white officers shoot and kill black suspects at a higher rate solely because of racial bias. Rather, he writes, it’s conceivable to test the opposite idea: police shootings are race-neutral.

If evidence suggested officers factored in race when deciding to pull the trigger, Lott says the race-neutral hypothesis would be disproven, therefore giving credence to the narrative of racial bias in police relations with the black community.

His data, he writes, contradicts that narrative entirely. “White officers are significantly less likely than black officers to kill black suspects, and they are not statistically significantly different from Hispanic, other race, and unknown race police officers,” he wrote. “Controlling for the violent crime rate alone or with the proportion of young black men reduces the estimated intercept, consistent with the race neutral hypothesis.”

Lott compiled a detailed list of 2,699 fatal police-involved shootings between 2013 and 2015 using FBI and CDC data, articles retrieved from Lexis/Nexis, Google and other online databases. Lott and study co-author Carlisle Moody explain the extensive efforts they took to flesh out the multiple data sets, which are often missing information about the officer’s race or gender, for example, and sometimes fail to record every police-involved killing occurring in a given year. . . . .

 


5 Responses

  1. […] Levett is black. But as shown by the recent Crime Prevention Research Center study, black police officers are slightly more likely to shoot black suspects than are white police […]

  2. […] about one out of five non-police justified homicides are caught by the UCR.  It appears that about half of justified police shootings are recorded in the […]

  3. […] about one out of five non-police justified homicides are caught by the UCR.  It appears that about half of justified police shootings are recorded in the […]

  4. […] Levett is black. But as shown by the recent Crime Prevention Research Center study, black police officers are slightly more likely to shoot black suspects than are white police […]

  5. […] one out of five non-police justified homicides are caught by the UCR. It appears that about half of justified police shootings show up in the […]

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