About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

August 23, 2014

Race and justifiable police homicides (I): Over time

Back in 2008 I posted about what I called the "Al Sharpton effect": cops shooting white people doesn't generally make the news. That post has gotten a lot of hits recently (roughly 2,000 page views a day, when normally my whole blog gets about 700).

So I've re-crunched these numbers, both to make them more current and to look at the past 15 years, from 1998 to 2012. This is fact 1 of 7 (give or take).

Fact 1: The racial percentage of those killed by police hasn't changed. In other words, police are not more (or less) likely to shoot and kill blacks than they were 15 years ago. (In more academic terms, there is no correlation between year and race, from 1998 to 2012, selecting for whites and blacks).

Before I post the next fact, ask yourself this: what percentage of those killed by police do you think are black?

I ask because because it's good to know if your "facts" are actually based on reality And if the actual facts don't coincide with what you think is true, then you need to reconsider your opinions based on lies. Too many people don't do that.


Severin said...


I spent much time trying to figure this out.

PCM said...

You, sir (or ma'am), are correct! Well done. Just wondering how you figured it out. Did you go to UCR or is there a better way?

Severin said...

Well there were FBI numbers for 1968, 1978, 1988, and 1998. You said they hadn't changed, and I knew the 1998 number. I feel like the media has done a bad job putting out objective numbers, so I've been doing literature searches trying to figure out for myself is there an epidemic of cops shooting black men. However, my rational approach doesn't sell newspapers, or make a Rev Bacon type figure famous.

PCM said...

I only went back to 1998. Was it the same in 1968 and 1978?

Severin said...

no, it was 51% in 1968,
Falling to 41 in 1978, and mid 30s in 88

This was from an FBI report.

PCM said...

51% in 1968? Wow.


Severin said...

This was the link to one of the reports I found, can't find the other.


It has this table
Race of felons killed
1978 50% White 49% Black
1988 59% White 39% Black
1998 62% White 35% Black

You're Welcome!

suz said...

Thank you independent thinkers. YOU are the minority by doing research

Anonymous said...

Okay, recrunch the numbers: how many of the killings were justified? Statistically speaking, how many more police officers got away with murdering minorities for no reason as opposed to murdering white people for no reason?

Not black, genuinely curious. This seems like an inaccurate premise to make any meaningful conclusion from.

Peter Moskos said...

We don't know. Technically, since these are killed "justifiable homicides," all of them.