Police Data Shows More Frequent Extreme Force Against Black Citizens

In 2015, outrage spread across the country in response to the troubling circumstances of Sandra Bland‘s death after her arrest in Texas.

At the time, Bland’s death was officially deemed a suicide. However, last month new footage of her arrest emerged showing an alarming escalation of force by the arresting police officer. Bland was pulled over in a traffic stop for failing to signal a lane change. Though she appears non-threatening, State Trooper Brian Encinia can be seen brandishing a Taser gun and saying he will “light you up” to Bland.

Though mystery still surrounds the circumstances of Bland’s arrest and death, it is just one of many instances of law enforcement exercising apparently excessive force against a black citizen.

Activist groups and movements, including Black Lives Matter, say there is a deep-seated racial bias held by American law enforcement officers that all too often results in unnecessary injuries and deaths of black Americans — and there is hard data to back this up.

Recently, police in Chicago released internal data that documented officer interactions, including the race of the citizens involved and how officers used — or did not use — varying degrees of force.

A look at these numbers finds that black suspects who offered resistance to police did so at similar rates as white suspects. However, officers were more likely to use higher levels of force, such as using a baton or brandishing a firearm, with black suspects. They did so 91.4 percent of the time for  highly resistant black citizens and 89.2 for  highly resistant white citizens.

Perhaps the most significant takeaway, though, is the frequency of officers’ use of lethal force. When all else is equal, Chicago police shot at black citizens 43 percent of the time — but only 28 percent of the time with white citizens.

Even though these statistics only deal with law enforcement in Chicago, it’s difficult to not assume that these results are indicative of trends in racial bias within departments and agencies across the U.S. What explains this large discrepancy, though?

Though there are instances of law enforcement officers being active members of white supremacist organizations, in many cases racial bias is rooted in the institution itself, as well as how officers are trained in the escalation of force.

One of the most crucial aspects of police training is assessing and responding to dangerous situations. When it comes to race, white Americans possess a persistent belief that black people are inherently physically stronger and more resistant to pain than whites are, and law enforcement officers are not exempt from belief in this myth.

As researchers have discovered, white people are overwhelmingly — 65 percent of the time — likely to agree that black people possess superhuman abilities.

It follows, then, that when a white police officer makes a threat assessment, this sort of racial belief factors in — even if it is on a subconscious level. Though police training might not explicitly include a racial bias, it does, demonstrably, encourage a rapid escalation of force. When these two factors are combined, is it really any wonder why officers are more prone to use deadly force against black Americans?

Photo Credit: James Perez/Unsplash

63 comments

danii p
danii p5 hours ago

Tyfs

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danii p
danii p5 hours ago

Tyfs

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danii p
danii p5 hours ago

Tyfs

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Paul B
Paul B2 days ago

I'm sure it has nothing to do with a growing resistive attitude of blacks towards law enforcement and a general lack of respect for authority.

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Leo C
Leo C4 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Pam Bruce
Pam B4 days ago

This is so not right. Many in enforcement think they are doing what Trump wants them to do. Wrong.

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Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride4 days ago

What IS wrong with these police, that they're so backward, prejudiced, & some, murderers.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill4 days ago

thanks

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Tabot T
Tabot T5 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

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Danuta W
Danuta W5 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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