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by Peter Moskos

August 23, 2014

Race and justifiable police homicides (II): white and black

Fact 2: Blacks are more likely than whites to be shot and killed by police, but probably less so than you'd suspect. 34 percent of those killed by police are African American. But put another way, 62 percent of those killed by police are white. (Actual numbers provided in next post.)

What you want to make of these data probably depends on your ideological persuasion. While the percentage of blacks killed by police (1/3) is disproportionately high compared to the percentage of Americans who are black (about 13%), one-third is low compared to other indicators of violence, such as the percentage of homicide victims and offenders who are African American (about 50 percent, give or take).

Since police-involved shootings correlate with gun violence in the population -- and many black communities receive a disproportionate amount of police attention -- one might expect the percentage of those killed by police to be closer to (or more than) 50 percent.

Based on the data, it does not seem that police are particularly trigger-happy around blacks compared to whites. (Though once could still argue that police are too trigger-happy overall.)

And keep in mind I make mistakes. If something seems fishy about my facts, let me know and I can double check.

Question for tomorrow's fact (#3): how many people (per year or per day) do police kill in the US?

[The source for all police-involved homicides is self-compiled UCR homicide supplements from 1998 to 2012. I've selected the value of 81 ("felon killed by police") for V29 ("Offender 1: circumstance"). I know that not all police departments report to the UCR, so the real numbers may be a bit more. But most police departments -- certainly all the big ones -- do report to the UCR. And the UCR covers "93.4 percent of the total population as established by the Bureau of Census." The coverage for justifiable homicides, however, is less complete.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Extending the National Violent Death Reporting System data to the nation as a whole, I'd guess 500-600