Chicago leaders are united to continue reforms, by saying in a joint statement by the mayor and police superintendent of Chicago, “We can only speak for our intentions, we can’t speak for the federal government’s. The reforms we have made over the past year are built on the principles of partnership and trust between our residents and our officers, and they laid the foundation for the 2017 reform plan we outlined just a few weeks ago.” While some reforms are needed, I laid out a case below that the DOJ report, and much of the criticism of Chicago police, is highly flawed.

An Evidence-Based Analysis of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Call to Review Obama-Era U.S. Justice Department Police Reforms

Attorney Generals Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder Missed the Mark and Evidence Clearly Shows: There’s No Systemic Racism in U.S. Police Departments & Far Less Use of Force in Chicago’s Police Department than Nationwide (Also, Up to 4000 More Americans May Have Died by Violent Homicide in 2016 than in 2014*)

  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose of Analysis
  3. Problems with DOJ Report: Part 1
  4. Problems with DOJ Report: Part 2 (Also: Evidence of No Racial Bias Against Blacks in Lethal Force, 8 Studies Showing No Bias, and Liberal Academic Bias)
  5. Academic Research Points to No Racial Bias in Police Arrests
  6. 2016 Arrests in Chicago are Less than Nationwide Average
  7. The ACLU Gets Defensive, Crime Spikes (Chicago, Baltimore & St. Louis) & Past Medium Posts
  8. No Bias In Chicago Policing & the “ACLU Effect”
  10. Extra Info & Idea: Maybe Reform ALL Police Departments Nationwide
  11. Addendum: The Chicago Tribune “Conservative” No Longer
  12. Last Word: Why Trump Won
Hey, that’s my t-shirt! A similar image as the one above was on a t-shirt I received in a trade at the Rolling Thunder Democracy Tour featuring left-wing populist Jim Hightower in 2001 in Washington State. Only difference: The cop was shooting someone. I bought two “George W. Bush: Corporate Polluters Ate My Brain” that mocked the newly “elected” 43rd president, and some fellow radical saw me with them. After a chat about our corrupt new administration, we traded. I often wore both through the mid-2000s.


By David Shuey

Feel free to review or comment on my data-crunching. CONCLUSIONS: Whites and blacks in Chicago are treated about the same per arrest in Chicago. AUGUST 2017 & MAY 2018 UPDATE ON HOW I GOT THE NUMBERS: I was able to tabulate a more accurate figure, as arrest totals lowered dramatically from 2009 to 2016, according to arrest data provided by the Chicago Sun Times in July 2017. I didn’t have those before when I calculated these percentages of use of force based on one year (2009 arrests), which I acknowledged made the preliminary numbers questionable: 2.4 per 100 arrests (whites in Chicago) and 2.8 per 100 arrests (blacks in Chicago). With these new arrest totals for each year that overlap the use-of-force data period, 2011–2016, I estimate use of force happened between 3.3 times per 100 arrests (whites in Chicago) and 4.0 per 100 arrests (blacks in Chicago). I’m positive these numbers (3.3 and 4.0) are as close to any data in the public domain to the truth, but I’m open to any fact-checking or correction. Arrest data after 2010 has not been publicly available on the CPD annual report website, as the Chicago Police Department stopped issuing annual reports in 2010 and are set to return in 2017, according to the Chicago Tribune (UPDATE: As of August 2018 there has been no new annual reports). Even with this update, the range of 3.3–4.0% is still far less than the 3.6–4.6% range in the national average, and the statistically significant difference between blacks and whites is smaller in Chicago (18%) than nationally (24%), too. Some could say this is a remarkable statistic considering violent crime in Chicago that police deal with daily is higher than average — and occurs predominantly in poor African American communities. For example, homicidal violence is 4–6 times higher in Chicago than nationally, roughly 30 per 100,000 residents compared to 5 per 100,000 in 2016, and almost 80% of the victims are black Chicagoans (who are also 74% of people killed by police, representing 1–2% of overall homicides in Chicago).

“Blacks, Latinos, and whites make up approximately equal thirds of the population in Chicago, but the raw statistics show that CPD uses force almost 10 times more often against blacks than against whites.” — January 2017 U.S. Department of Justice Investigative Report on the Chicago Police Department. (Guess what? The ARREST rate was almost 10 times higher, as well. They don’t mention this. Thus, the RATE of use of force is about the same.)

For example, I crunched some numbers in a spreadsheet and found in Chicago that police use of force per arrest against African American citizens is significantly less than the nationwide black rate, 4.0 per 100 vs. 4.6 per 100. The national rate — representative of 12 municipalities spanning the nation — was heavily publicized in the summer of 2016 by the Center for Policing Equity and repeated by The New York Times as evidence of statistically significant racial bias because the white rate was a full percentage point less at 3.6 per 100 arrests (3.6% vs. 4.6%). I argued that was an overblown conclusion, especially when considering African Americans resist arrest and injure police more often and a higher percentage of black arrests involve violent crime (this alone could account for the small disparity, which I’ll address in more detail later). The rate difference between white and black Chicagoans per arrest is a mere 18%, 3.3 per 100 vs. 4.0 per 100. Nationally, the rate difference between white and black Americans per arrest is greater at 24.4%, 3.6 per 100 vs. 4.6 per 100. Thus, that data tells us cops are treating blacks and whites more equitably in Chicago than nationwide.

Click through the tabs on my spreadsheet where 2009 arrest data and other Chicago policing facts provide much needed context. Some results are surprising. They were for me. For example: Did you know the Chicago Police Department in 2016 was less likely to make arrests than police departments nationally? See spreadsheet or section 6 below for details.
HOW THE MEDIA EXAGGERATES RACIAL BIAS IN POLICING. (DEPENDS ON POV.) ”The Washington Post headline to the above graph: “You really can get pulled over for driving while black, federal statistics show.” Look closely at the data and you clearly see that this heavily studied urban legend (a constant fixture in the ACLU’s fundraising mix) is mostly a myth — and the headline is deceitful. The conventional academic and media manner of presenting the data is to inflate the importance of select disparities. For example, they highlight that blacks are 1.8 times more likely to be pulled over without a reason (4.7% divided by 2.6%). Thus, The Washington Post writes with alarm, “Perhaps most troubling from a civil liberties perspective, nearly five percent of blacks weren’t given any reason for why they were stopped, compared with 2.6 percent of whites and 3.3 percent of Hispanics.” Another way of looking at the data that completely invalidates the headline and civil liberties narrative arc of The Washington Post story (and many like it) is the statistical reality that 95% of the time blacks ARE actually given a reason for being pulled over. By that token, and using the same data on the chart above, one could counter that whites are 4.0 times more likely to receive sobriety checks (1.6% divided by .4%). What you won’t see in today’s media landscape is the “reverse discrimination” click-bait headline, “It is true you can get a sobriety test for being white, federal statistics show.” Thus, I would argue mainstream media stories like this exaggerate the scale of the problem, and foment distrust between citizens and police. (One possibly negative result: Murder rates in the U.S. climbed 20% since the Ferguson unrest in 2014, which a criminologist in the NY Times said is “not trivial” and a “serious problem,” though the article fails to mention “The Ferguson Effect.”) Few talk about how there can be disparities based on actual citizen behavior and that the realities of patrolling high-crime areas looking for suspects can lead to “relatively more black drivers (12.8%) than white (9.8%) and Hispanic (10.4%) drivers pulled over in a traffic stop during their most recent contact with police.” Look at those percentages closely and you see they’re small statistical differences; and there are other surveys like the Police-Public Contact Survey (using data in 2005 and 2008) that show that 20.7% of whites, 17.5% of blacks and 17.1% of Hispanics have at least one contact with the police in any given year. Catch that? Whites have more police contact in some statistical categories, but those aren’t mentioned in The Washington Post and other major news outlets. Neither was an Obama-era report by the National Institute of Justice able to prove racial profiling traffic stops, which black conservative Larry Elder touted. This was due to 3 things: Differences in driving patterns, differences in exposure to the police, and differences in offending. Indeed, it’s true that not all demographic groups behave the same. For example, a 2002 study where researchers took photos of 38,747 freeway drivers, and determined 2.7% of photographed black drivers were speeders, compared with 1.4% of white drivers, which is 1.9 times higher.
HOW TO DEBUNK THE NARRATIVE THAT CONTRABAND SEARCHES ARE RACIST. The Washington Post also writes stories about tiny disparities in searches for contraband in vehicles (headline: “Police are searching black drivers more often, but finding more illegal stuff with white drivers”) and claim, almost in willful denial of the evidence, that this is proof that “ineffectual, biased policing continues in many places. “ Focusing on data from a sensationalized New York Times study on racial bias, The Washington Post claims police are not only racially biased, but “inefficient.” Is not searching 98-99.6% of all vehicles stopped in Chicago racially biased and inefficient? These are the precise percentages I calculated myself while taking a skeptical look at the results published in two of the most prestigious newspapers in the country. None say it simply and clearly for the reader, as I would, “Evidence indicates that if you’re black, you’ll be searched in 2% of stops in Chicago and less than 1 in 200 stops in a mostly white Chicago suburb.” Why can’t mainstream media provide this “next step” to present data the average reader can visualize? For example, I found while reading The Washington Post story that in my nearby Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates .25% of all stops for whites have a search take place. The search percentage is .4% of all stops for blacks. Usurping reason and skepticism, The Washington Post claims “biased policing” and their prime example is that 99.6% of the time if you’re black a cop isn’t searching your car compared to whites who aren’t searched 99.75% of the time. In Chicago blacks aren’t searched 98% of the time and whites aren’t searched 99.6% of the time — again, percentages I tabulated with their data — but the article’s focus is the 19% vs. 26% “found contraband” rate that somehow proves blacks are discriminated against for unnecessary stops. (And this Chicago data also shows blacks aren’t even twice as likely to be pulled over as whites, though arrest data indicates nearly 9 times more arrests.) I will concede: There is a black-white disparity of three times in Chicago, which is reflected in the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on treatment by police nationally that show blacks and Hispanics are searched three times more often than whites (but oddly, at much higher percentages at 2% for whites, 6% for blacks, and 7% for Hispanics). Yet, let’s be honest — if you’re part of a group that by a wide margin has negative feelings about police than other groups, you’ll more likely to be non-compliant on average. This makes it more likely that a police officer will search your vehicle. Thus, even tiny percentage differences can be driven by citizen behavior more than the standard narrative of endemic police racial bias, corruption, and misconduct.



“If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds.”


Purpose of Analysis

The 161-page DOJ Report:

Key Purpose of this Analysis & Post:

To highlight how the U.S. Department of Justice Report (DOJ) on the Chicago Police in Jan 2017, like other reports and media stories before it, does not contextualize to actual crime rates in the areas the police are working.

These Facts Beg the Questions…

When is the Chicago Tribune, DOJ, and Chicago-mayor appointed task force groups going to do their jobs and benchmark police actions to 1. crime and 2. other cities, thus showing if the police force is really acting out more violently or unjustly?

Even the anti-police site “Mapping Police Violence” shows Chicago police killing at less than the national average. Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Washington DC and New York City are to the right of the “grey bar” above.

Problems with DOJ Report: Part 1 (sources below)

Are Chicago police “over-policing” when there’s 12 times more arrests of African Americans for criminal sexual assault than of whites? Or when the clearance rate of black murders is lower than whites and still there’s 27 times more arrests for murder than for whites? (Source: Chicago Police Department 2009 Annual Report)
  • 72% of total arrests are black, 9% are white (8x)
  • 75% of murder arrests are black, 3% are white (27x)
  • 68% of sexual assault arrests are black, 6% are white (12x)
  • 85% of robbery arrest are black, 4% are white (24x)
  • 68% of aggravated assault arrest are black, 7% are white (10x)
  • 78% of narcotic arrests are black, 6% are white (13x)
Of course, these rate differences are almost entirely driven by behavior, such as the fact black men are 8 times more likely than white men to commit murder or robbery. The Sentencing Project isn’t going to tell you that. By their logic, this chart also tells us that men are “discriminated” against far more than women.
From what will now be known as: The Zak Efron Comparative Point. (Thanks, Guardian.) P.S. Fraternities and single-gender “final clubs” may, in fact, have no higher sexual assault rates than dormitories, according to an analysis done at Harvard.

Is Having 3–4% of Arrests Leading to Use of Force Unconstitutional?

I surmise the U.S. Justice Department agenda is simply to lower incarceration rates and “fix” the policing problem that people — particularly communities of color — have been complaining about for decades as an ongoing civil rights battle. Anything that gets in the way is to be deleted. While stats aren’t perfect, it makes little sense to include police-provided incidents of use of force and leave out citizen-provided incidents like being robbed or raped.

Give myself an hour to break down the stats here April 5, 2017 as I edit this Medium Post (sorry, I’m not employed by the U.S. Department of Justice, nor am I trained statisticians) …

Again, here are the rates of use of force that are roughly accurate based on available data:

  • 3.6 per 100 arrests (whites nationally)
  • 4.6 per 100 arrests (blacks nationally)
  • 3.3 per 100 arrests (whites in Chicago)
  • 4.0 per 100 arrests (blacks in Chicago)
The key figure on the report is on page 9 “Table 4. Use of Force Rates per 1,000 Arrests, by Citizen Race.” I wrote in July of 2016 how The New York times follows the Center for Policing Equity’s lead in spin-doctoring the data to show a large difference between blacks and whites per stop, when any reasonable person can see there’s nothing of the sort. As I wrote, “According to the Center for Policing Equity’s own data, 21 out 22 times [encounters with police] do “go well” with no “use of force” for blacks, and 27 out of 28 times it’s the same results for whites … But again for Black Americans, 31% of total instances of “use of force” vs. 28% of total times arrested indicates to me that overall there’s negligible bias. I wonder how these two data sets are unrelated. I suspect they are not.” Additionally, The Center for Policing Equity is unquestionably social justice oriented. Any question on their bias can also check their director’s Twitter feed.

August 2017 & May 2018 UPDATE (row 6 of my spreadsheet):

Earlier, I listed the rate as 2.4 (white) and 2.8 (black) per 100 stops in Chicago based on one year’s worth of arrests. I did that by dividing the average annual instances of use of force over a 5-year period (3,693 for blacks, 383 for whites) with the year 2009 where there was more than 180,000 arrests. At the time I first edited this Medium post, 2009 was one of the last years the CPD issued an annual report, and also happened to be the one where I already broke out arrests by race. That’s also a high-water mark for number of arrests. My spreadsheet is updated now. I was able to tabulate a more accurate figure, as arrest totals lowered dramatically from 2009 to 2016, according to arrest data provided by the Chicago Sun Times in July 2017. I didn’t have those before. With those new arrest totals for each year that overlap the use-of-force data period, 2011–2016, I estimate use of force happened between 3.3 times per 100 arrests (whites in Chicago) and 4.0 per 100 arrests (blacks in Chicago). Arrest data after 2010 has not been publicly available on the CPD website, as Chicago Police Department annual reports stopped in 2010 and are set to return in 2017, according to the Chicago Tribune. Even with this update, the range of 3.3–4.0% is still much less than the 3.6–4.6% range in the national average, and the difference between blacks and whites is smaller in Chicago (18%) than nationally (24%), too.

  • Research shows in a 2010 report sent to the U.S. Department of Justice that police are more likely to be injured arresting a black suspect than a white suspect (“The results from model 1 also indicate that the odds of officer injury are slightly lower if the suspect was white compared to another racial group (OR=0.87; 95% CI= 0.80–0.95”). The same report led by criminologist Michael Smith, JD, PhD, showed that “non-white suspects were less likely to be injured than white suspects.” (Incredibly, this reference is found on the police-are-racially-biased research posited by the Center for Policing Equity’s report on police use of force on page 26.)
  • Black arrests for violent crimes are vastly higher than whites. 4.1% of all arrests for whites are in 4 major violent crime categories (Murder, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Rape). 6.7% of all arrests for blacks are in those same 4 violent crime categories. The black-white percentage difference for these types of arrests is 48%.

Now Back to my April 2017 Analysis…

I used 2009 as it’s one of the last years CPD made publicly available on their website Chicago’s arrest data broken down by demographics; I hope to update the data when I’m able to work with with complete 2011–2016 information, such as the exact black and white arrest total for each year. The last year of that period, 2016, arrests dropped precipitously to around 80,000. I estimate that if I took the time to average all arrests during the same 2011–2016 period, it still wouldn’t be out-of-line to say that based on the available data, that about 1 in 30 Chicagoans of any race receive force per arrest.

61% of police misconduct complaints are black, yet blacks are more than 70% of Chicagoans on the receiving end of law enforcement use of force. How does that make sense? (And yes, it also doesn’t make sense that whites are vastly more likely to have their complaints sustained.)
Repeatedly, the only thing that matters to the ACLU and Obama U.S. Department of Justice officials are stops and how they compare to the overall population demographics. They omit crime statistics from 911 calls, crime reports, or arrests. This visualization above from the March 2015 ACLU report on Chicago police illustrates that point. Stories on WBEZ, the Chicago Public Radio affiliate, dance around that point, while also stating clearly that stop demographics almost exactly match crime report demographics.

SOURCES for Part 1:

Chicago Police Department 2009 Annual Report, CPD Arrests, page 43 of PDF. (2010 was last year online; why were these stats and annual reports not available for 5 years? Perhaps ask Rahm Emanuel who came into office in 2011 with a new police superintendent. Wait… Google google goo… the Tribune offers some hazy answers to that question and news that the annual report is supposedly coming back in 2017.):

Problems with DOJ Report: Part 2 (Also: Evidence of No Racial Bias Against Blacks in Lethal Force, 7 Studies Showing No Bias, and Liberal Academic Bias)

Systemic racial violence by police is true if their actions are disproportional to the violence they face. The DOJ and the media ignore them consistently. The word “disparate” or “disparities” is mentioned 21 times in the 161-page DOJ report on the Chicago Police Department, and not a single time is it related to the prodigious disparities in crime by race in Chicago, which is easily found in past CPD annual reports. Many of these disparities in Chicago are at least three times (3x) higher than the national levels, including for robbery, sexual assault, and murder.

1 in 300,000 = Chicago Rate of Police Killings. This is the Same as Nationwide, But I’ve Yet to See Reported in the Chicago Tribune or Elsewhere

Police in Chicago the last two years have shot and killed roughly 1 person per 300,000 residents. (10 per year over the most recent two-year period with slightly 2.7 million residents = 1 in 270,000; 8 reported killings by the Tribune in 2015 = 1 in 337,500.)

2018 Update: My Own Data

What’s remarkable to me, is that although I know many of the analysis take high-level statistical work, it’s fairly easy to take a strong estimate of “fairness” in the system. As I repeatedly say, just divide X (use of force incidents, deaths) by Y (arrests, stops). So here is my data:

  • Consistently, the likelihood of being arrested per arrest is 10% less likely for blacks than whites and Hispanics.
  • Blacks are killed about 1 in 12,000 arrests (using Washington Post data).
  • Whites and Hispanics combined are killed in about 1 in 11,000 arrests.
  • Using Guardian data, it’s 1 in 11,000 of black arrests and 1 in 10,000 white and Hispanic arrests.
  • 4.1% of all arrests for whites are in 4 major violent crime categories (Murder, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Rape).
  • 6.7% of all arrests for blacks are in those 4 violent crime categories.
  • 50 less whites would be killed if shot at the same rate as blacks (consistent with my data on the “Killings per arrest” tab and my first bullet point above.
  1. Unarmed killings of both whites and blacks are low (Washington Post data: 5–10% of total).
  2. White women are killed at a slightly higher % of times while unarmed than black women (Guardian 36% vs. 28%, Washington Post 13% vs 13%).
  3. Women are killed 5 times lower than their interaction rate with police (5% of total killings and 26% of arrests).
  4. Black men are killed when unarmed at higher percentages than white men (21% vs. 16% using Guardian data; 10% vs. 5% using Washington Post data), which may indicate the need for more research on a granular level, as there’s so few overall. i.e. Perhaps slightly more racial bias by police or blacks are involved in slightly more incidents of resisting arrest — which studies prove — and/or reaching for officer’s weapon and then charging at him hands clenched (not up), such as the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Bring on the Studies & Evidence-based Research (UPDATE: We’re Now Up to 7 Studies Published in the Past Few Years Showing Police Don’t Use Lethal Force More on Blacks)

Here are three studies published last year that prove that police shooting outcomes today aren’t racially biased against African Americans, but in fact, are biased against white Americans:

  • Research at Washington State University focused on how police reaction times in shootings may be disadvantageous to white people even if the officer have implicit bias against black people (“The Reverse Racism Effect”), and was reported about by The Washington Post. Excerpt: “Policy Implications: This article reports the results of our most recent experiment, which tested 80 police patrol officers by applying this leading edge method. We found that, despite clear evidence of implicit bias against Black suspects, officers were slower to shoot armed Black suspects than armed White suspects, and they were less likely to shoot unarmed Black suspects than unarmed White suspects. These findings challenge the assumption that implicit racial bias affects police behavior in deadly encounters with Black suspects.”
  • A working paper by a renowned Harvard economist Roland Fryer analyzed more than 1300 police shootings and found police are around less likely to shoot blacks than whites under similar circumstances. Exactly 23.8% less likely using Houston data, which the recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship and his team thoroughly categorized. Excerpt: “Using data from Houston, Texas — where we have both officer-involved shootings and a randomly chosen set of potential interactions with police where lethal force may have been justified — we find, in the raw data, that blacks are 23.8 percent less likely to be shot at by police relative to whites. Hispanics are 8.5 percent less likely.”
  • A November 2016 hard data-driven study by the College of William and Mary Department of Economics and the Crime Prevention Research Center — largely ignored by the media — concluded there is no racial bias in police shootings. They also concluded body cameras don’t reduce killings. “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 suspectOur estimates examining the killings of white and Hispanic suspects found no differences with respect to the races of police officers. If the police are engaged in discrimination, such discriminatory behavior should also be more difficult when body or other cameras are recording their actions. We find no evidence that body cameras affect either the number of police killings or the racial composition of those killings.”
Go to page 19 of the PDF for the Center for Policing Equity’s conclusions on use of force disparities. Blacks receive slightly more use of force in all but one category: Lethal force. They even offer a caveat on those differences in their conclusions section on page 26: “That significant attention should be paid to additional situational factors in attempting to quantify and explain racial disparities in use of force. For instance, might racial disparities in the tendency to resist, flee, or disrespect officers be implicated in the observed differences? Might cultural mismatches and/or officers’ perceptions of cooperation be influenced by residents’ race? There is some suggestive evidence that there are racial disparities in resistance based on research by Smith and colleagues for the National Institute of Justice. They find that the rate of officer injury is lower when arresting a White suspect than a suspect of another racial group (Smith et al., 2009).” The following is the excerpt and data from the Michael R. Smith, J.D., Ph.D analysis from July 2010 (A Multi-Method Evaluation of Police Use of Force Outcomes: Final Report to the National Institute of Justice): “The results from model 1 also indicate that the odds of officer injury are slightly lower if the suspect was white compared to another racial group (OR=0.87; 95% CI= 0.80–0.95).”

Two More Sources (Making for Five Total Studies So Far …)

Here are two more analyses (making five total) that show lethal force is disproportionately directed at white Americans more than black Americans.

Six, Seven, Eight Sources (Wait, Really Seven, as the Cesario Lab Study is a Duplicate of the Preliminary Work Above)

Additionally, here’s a sixth study published in the journal Injury Prevention that Time reported about in July 2016 that likely was swept aside and forgotten amidst Roland Fryer and Center for Policing Equity’s more high-profile media releases. It clearly shows no racial disparity in outcomes of injury or death by police per capita:

  • More centralized data is needed, such as from the FBI.
  • Less than 10% of people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed.
  • There are some racial disparities between blacks and whites in unarmed killings. Though, again, I’m unsure if they controlled for every interaction like the fact, as he wrote later, “black citizens are more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested than white citizens.”
  • It’s difficult to discern what the following means, when it’s not clear if any controls are added (and unarmed blacks are clearly 3–4 times more likely to be killed than whites in raw data, or 3.49 times more likely according to the infamous Cody Ross): “Blacks were more than twice as likely as Whites to have been unarmed when they were shot and killed by police. These findings suggest evidence of implicit bias in real-world scenarios.”
Dr. Joseph Cesario is the director Cesario Lab and associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University. Hear him talk on on YouTube about why his research in the deadly use of force by law enforcement is important — mostly in terms of building trust between police and the communities they serve — and about undergraduate research opportunities at MSU.
Lone image from the Wikipedia entry “Race and crime in the United States, “ likely the first place I waded into these complicated issues of criminal justice and race. Sections like the “robbery” section clearly show why high disparities in criminal incarceration exist: “According to the National Crime Victimization Survey in 2002, the black arrest rate for robbery was 8.55 times higher than whites, and blacks were 16 times more likely to be incarcerated for robbery than non-Hispanic whites. Robberies with white victims and black offenders were more than 12 times more common than vice versa.“ One likely reason for a much higher black incarceration rate than commission rate could come from a small subset of people involved in repeated violent robberies.
  • From the introduction of “Racial Stereotypes and Robbery” in 2004: Robbery is a very serious crime, often involving violence, and resulting each year in aggregate costs to victims of several billion dollars.(1) It is also a crime that involves significant and persistent racial disparities. African-Americans are considerably more likely to be robbery victims, arrestees, and prisoners than either whites or Hispanics.(2) No other crimes except murder and possibly drug trafficking are nearly so concentrated among African-Americans. But robberies are about forty times as common as murders, and more state prison inmates are incarcerated for robbery than for any other index crime. (3) Even more striking is the fact that while white-on-white, black-on-black, and black-on-white robberies are all very common, white-on-black robberies are extremely rare. Robberies with white victims and black offenders are more than twelve times as frequent as those with black victims and white offenders. (4) Since white criminals are plentiful, the paucity of white-on-black robberies is puzzling. This phenomenon runs counter to some common beliefs about racism: if whites dislike blacks, or if law enforcement undervalues black safety, or if courts are reluctant to accept black testimony against whites, then white criminals should eagerly rob blacks. The abundance of black-on-white robbery is also somewhat surprising. Although the overwhelming majority of black robbery victims would be white if robbers were sorted to victims completely randomly, most other crime seems to be concentrated within groups.(5)
    1 — The direct cost to a victim of a robbery with injury is on average $19,000; the cost of a robbery without injury is about $2,000 (Miller, Cohen and Wiersma, 1996). These estimates include property damage, medical expenses, lost productivity, and intangible reduction in the quality of life. Updating to 2002, a year in which around half-a-million robberies occurred, implies costs to robbery victims of about $5.4 billion. These estimates do not include the costs of precautions, fear, or heightened racial friction and segregation that robbery might cause
    2 —
    Relative to whites in 2002, African-Americans were 2.16 times as likely to be robbery victims in 2002, and 8.55 times as likely to be arrested for robbery. Relative to non-Hispanic whites, African-Americans were 16.1 times as likely to be incarcerated in a state prison for robbery. Relative to Hispanics, African Americans are 1.68 times as likely to be victims and 3.51 times as likely to be prisoners. In New York State in 1999, African-Americans were 2.85 times as likely to be arrested for robbery as Hispanics (Sources: National Criminal Victimization Survey 2002, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, table 4.10; Harrison and Beck, 2004, table 15; New York State Division of Criminal Justice Statistics 2004, the Statistical Abstract, table 13, and American FactFinder.) The population base for arrests and prisoners is population over 18 (census); for victimization, population over 12 (NCVS).
    3 — Around 151,000 individuals were incarcerated for robbery in 2002, of whom 91,000 were African-American (Harrison and Beck, 2004, table 15).
    16.6% of African-Americans in prison have been convicted of robbery, more than any other index crime.
    4 — Detailed evidence on these disparities is provided in Section 2 below.
    5 — While 72% of the victims of black robbers were white, only 16% of the victims of black murderers were white, 26% of the victims of black rapists, and 53% of the victims of black assailants (Fox and Zawitz, 2004; NCVS 2002, table 42).

“But 50 years of research on the topic have failed to find the smoking gun linking justice-system disparities to racism. Claims to the contrary often manipulate data or ignore them altogether.” — Criminologists John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi

City Journal critique on criminology.

Liberal Academic Bias

Despite these pockets of analytical transparency and quantitative pragmatism in the social sciences regarding how crime arrests actually match the commission of crime, much of this discipline tries to run and hide from these realities. Criminologists John Paul Wright (Professor at the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati) and Matt DeLisi (Coordinator of Criminal Justice Studies, Professor in the Department of Sociology, and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University) posted their own critique of their fellow sociologists in the City Journal saying, “When it comes to disciplinary biases, however, none is so strong or as corrupting as liberal views on race. Disproportionate black involvement in violent crime represents the elephant in the room amid the current controversy over policing in the United States.” They then point out how young African-American males commit homicide at rates 15 to 35 times higher than their share of the population. Also referenced is the black-white gap in armed-robbery offending that ranges between 10:1 and 15:1, which is reflected in the “Racial Stereotypes and Robbery” paper I previously mentioned. They also says something I’ve long suspected:

“I don’t know of any social science department where you can conduct honest scientific research on matters that are even tangential to race.”

This Perspective Was Personally Confirmed To Me: Statistical Truth is Ignored and a “Chilling Effect” Exists in Academia

Back when The Atlantic accepted comments, I had one person openly tell me his truth about academic bias in an exchange.

Sociologists Who Miss the Mark (by Omitting Crime Data)

Indeed, the DOJ report looks like it was written by modern day criminologists and social scientists who publicly ignore the higher crime rates in minority communities. This is intellectual dishonesty that has led to disastrous consequences as homicide rates spiked since 2014 — and an argument can be made that thousands of people unnecessarily died because of “bad” information.

Despite what Wikipedia says on its poorly sourced #SayHerName page that 20% of “all” unarmed people killed are black women, in actuality they barely make up 5% of total unarmed people killed in the “black” category the past three years. In fact, black women make up less than 2% of “all” unarmed black people in both the The Guardian and The Washington Post databases on police killings (yet I’m the only one crunching this very simple data).

This statistic throws major shade on Johnson’s argument that the odds of being killed while black and unarmed is “primarily” driven by black women. My conclusions based strictly on Guardian and Washington Post data: Black women are between 18–28% of all unarmed women, and under 2% of all unarmed people, killed by police. Yes, Wikipedia is wrong by a factor of 10. Go figure. I’ve even been in touch with Dr. Johnson about his research and found him very cordial and responsive, but I couldn’t quite find sensible answers to this compelling question — and likely won’t unless he makes his source data available. It’s why I didn’t go ahead and publish this draft analysis and critique of Johnson’s work.

Picture from ThoughCo piece by sociologist Nicki Lisa Cole, PhD.
No sociologist did the work to run these numbers. I did. Chicago source data & national source data.
  • Forensics evidence shows Brown tried to reach inside officer Wilson’s vehicle, punched the officer, and attempted to take his gun. This forced Wilson’s gun to fire close-range inside the vehicle and a bullet hit Brown’s hand. From the report: “Brown grabbed the weapon and struggled with Wilson to gain control of it. Wilson fired, striking Brown in the hand. Autopsy results and bullet trajectory, skin from Brown’s palm on the outside of the SUV door as well as Brown’s DNA on the inside of the driver’s door corroborate Wilson’s account that during the struggle, Brown used his right hand to grab and attempt to control Wilson’s gun. According to three autopsies, Brown sustained a close range gunshot wound to the fleshy portion of his right hand at the base of his right thumb.”
  • Blood evidence shows Brown ran 180 feet away from Wilson. But for some unknown reason he returned by “charging” with “fists clenched” and was shot in close proximity to the police vehicle, subverting the entire “hand’s up, don’t shoot” narrative. Therefore, the verbal accounts by other witnesses that said Brown never moved back towards Wilson “could not be relied upon in a prosecution.”
  • Additionally from the report: “The evidence establishes that the shots fired by Wilson after Brown turned around were in self-defense and thus were not objectively unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
Posted on Latin-Australian sociologist Zuleyka Zevallos’ blog.

A Militarized Policing Aside: Where’s The Real Evidence They’re a Danger to Black America?

Let’s dismantle that argument coming from groups like Sociologists for Justice that “militarized” police lead to “excessive use of force.” To me, the academics and critics seems to cherry pick narrow conclusions, rather than seeing what’s happening from a nationwide angle as nearly all levels of violence have gone down at the same time use of military equipment and tactics by police has gone up.

CONTINUED: Sociologists Who Miss the Mark (by Omitting Crime Data)

What else do we find from Googling “sociologist racism in police”? This search also leads to the writings of “broadly trained sociologist” Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D writing for ThoughtCo, an education website launched in 2017. She clearly has their search engine optimization coding down pat. Other things? Not so much.

One can head to Detroit in November, 2018, for the following “Facing Race” event: “The Government Alliance on Racial Equity’s pre-conference is an add-on ticketed event, November 8th at Facing Race.” Cost: $135 — $2,250.
  1. Contact rates by police (stops, arrests)
  2. Justification for those contacts (crime reports, 911 calls, victim studies)
  3. Use of force rates (lethal and nonlethal)

Criminologists Who Get it Right

But there are criminologists who do mention how contextualizing for crime eliminates disparities. Those seven studies I mentioned above indicating no racial bias in lethal and nonlethal use of force include a few — though many of those authors operate in different fields than criminology.

The Contact Card pre 2016: Pretty simple. And blacks are constitute around 72% of them.

Back to Chicago: What About Use of Force?

In Chicago, the Contact Cards (police stops) absolutely MATCH the Case Reports (people reporting suspects). Thus, like national statistics, one can argue police aren’t participating in a “pattern or practice” of discrimination. Nearly two years ago I found this information on a online story after a hard hitting ACLU report, but it disappeared. Was it “scrubbed” by NPR, I speculated? The end of the story directly rebutted the civil rights argument of racial bias by Chicago police by contextualizing stops to actual crime. I call it the “Holy Grail” source because I couldn’t find this data anywhere else no matter how hard I searched. (You would think CPD or the Fraternal Order of Police would spread this information far and wide rather than in one instance, instead of generic pronouncements like, “Well, police work in high-crime areas, yada, yada.”) But luckily I saved a copy of the URL and graphic in my ACLU and CPD analysis documents I draft when wrestling with crime and police data in Chicago. Finally, I re-checked the Wayback Machine to discover this coveted URL has indeed been archived:

Scrubbed from Web, but The Wayback Machine archive has it here. I always find it funny they misspelled “Latino” as if they whipped this table up in a rush. Source: Chicago Police Department

What About Other Big Cities? What About White People Being 50% of Citizens Killed by Police?

Indeed, cities like Chicago and San Francisco with major mental health and violence problems get a “reputation” as having a crisis in policing but when you do the math, they kill citizens at the same as the nation’s average. New York City’s fatal killings involving police have dropped by a factor of 12 since 1971, with only 8 killed in 2013. That would be three times (3x) less than the national average, at 1 in 1,050,000 citizens.

A 2015 traffic stop police shooting of an unarmed father resulted in the death of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis.
Shooting of unarmed Zachary Hammond after a marijuana drug sting.
In San Francisco.
In New York City.
2015 stats, 9 killed by Chicago police (CPD):
Chart from the 2016 Chicago Police Accountability Task Force: 74% of people shot by police in Chicago are black.

Further Sources for Part 2 at the Bottom of this Post

Academic Research Points to No Racial Bias in Overall Black Arrests Based on Commission of Crime & Black Cops Shoot 3x More Often than White Cops

That even includes drug arrests in the mix, which are racially disproportionate. They’re also less than 15% of arrests.

“Black crime”: Conservatives have their arguments, and liberals have theirs.
If Bill Clinton’s “tough on crime” approach devastated families, how come non-marital births leveled off for blacks since the mid-1990s? Another question: How come single-parent households exploded immediately after welfare expanded in the late 1960s? Funny, it seems only conservatives ask these questions — often providing rational, if taboo, answers. Still, I’m open to saying welfare is just one part of the overall breakup-of-the-nuclear-family picture, as famed sociologist William Julius Wilson considers lack of employment opportunities for black men may have led to more single-parents homes. (Image Source: The Economist)

Incarceration Disparity Myths

Also, much is often said about how mass incarceration, especially after the 1994 Crime Bill (supported by Bill Clinton, the Democrats, and two-thirds of the Black Caucus), destroyed lives, devastated the black community, and is racist. However, that’s simply not true.

  • “The facts do not show a ‘racist criminal justice system.’ The problem of the high rates of black imprisonment will not be solved by falsely screaming racism.”
  • “Blacks are arrested at higher rates compared to whites — but wrongly so. Not true. … Studies find that arrest rates by race are comparable to the race of suspect identification by victims.”
  • “Blacks are convicted at higher rates and given longer sentences than whites for the same crime. Not true. Differences in conviction and sentencing rates by race are due to differences in the gravity of the criminal offenses, prior records or other legal variables. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases in the country’s 75 largest urban areas actually found lower felony prosecution rates for blacks than whites and that blacks were less likely to be found guilty at trial.” [Link to study.]

Studies Showing Arrest Rates are Fair — Or Counter-intuitively Disadvantageous to Whites

Three studies show it is actually white offenders that are more likely to be in contact with police based on the commission of a crime. One of them is consistently referenced in Wikipedia’s analysis of race and crime.

Here’s what three studies say about arrests not being institutionally racist, as police are acting fairly in their arrests consistent with the crime they face:

Here’s one peer-reviewed study pushing back on the narrative that more “black cops” and diversity among the police ranks will lead to less shootings:

It’s a complete fallacy that it’s white cops with implicit bias killing black people. Black cops — who admittedly may also have implicit bias — shoot their weapons 3.3 times more often than their white counterparts, according to University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway. Around 4 in 5 people black cops shoot are black themselves, as opposed to less than 1 in 4 for white cops. Ridgeway wrote: “Recent research suggests diversity does not make officers safer and this research does not suggest diversity will reduce the risk of police shootings.”
SOURCE (“Officer Risk Factors Associated with Police Shootings: A Matched Case–Control Study,” Journal Statistics and Public Policy, 2016):

Also, here’s one more study conservatives Larry Elder and Heather Mac Donald reference involving a U.S. Justice Department survey in the 75 largest urban areas that indicates a key finding: “No Racism”!

Heather MacDonald wrote in 2008: “A 1987 analysis of Georgia felony convictions, for example, found that blacks frequently received disproportionately lenient punishment. A 1990 study of 11,000 California cases found that slight racial disparities in sentence length resulted from blacks’ prior records and other legally relevant variables. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases from the country’s 75 largest urban areas discovered that blacks actually had a lower chance of prosecution following a felony than whites did and that they were less likely to be found guilty at trial.”

Two studies where blacks are given between 5–10% longer sentences:

The Bureau of Justice in October 2015 reported: “In the 8-year period between 2005 and 2012, black men received roughly 5% to 10% longer prison sentences than white men for similar crimes, after accounting for the facts surrounding the case.”

Incarceration Digression: Let’s Assume A Small Disparity

Many other sources show there are racial disparities in sentencing. But the “white privilege” gains are small, despite all the brouhaha about the Brock Turners of the world. The Bureau of Justice in October 2015 reported: “In the 8-year period between 2005 and 2012, black men received roughly 5% to 10% longer prison sentences than white men for similar crimes, after accounting for the facts surrounding the case.” A University of Michigan Law School study in 2014 showing 10% longer sentences for blacks compared to whites at the federal level is the main citation in Wikipedia.

2016 Arrests in Chicago are Less than Nationwide Average (In Journalism, this is Called Burying the Lead)

Not sure what is The Sun Times source for their arrest totals, but they report arrests are down 28% (not 25%, like their URL implies, or 33% as CBS’ 60 Minutes reports).

Today, arrests are dropping precipitously in Chicago and their share is actually LESS than the national average

The ACLU Gets Defensive, Crime Spikes (Chicago, Baltimore & St. Louis) & Past Medium Posts

More charts like this at FiveThirtyEight.

Dismantling the Typical Stop-and-Frisk Arguments

It’s true, the American Civil Liberties Union were instrumental in changing how Chicago was policed after dropping an incendiary 2015 report that said, “Chicagoans were stopped more than 4 times as often as New Yorkers at the height of New York City’s stop-and-frisk practice.” True, the numbers don’t appear fair on the surface. Some could call this a “citizen toll” for dealing with high levels of violent crime in the U.S. compared to other developed nations. The homicide rate in Chicago was also 4 times as high as New York City’s, which is rarely mentioned. Though, that doesn’t mean police have to stop people at that same rate. What’s important is: How are police treating people per stop (use-force-rates and disparities) and what are the repercussions of a style of policing ends?

From the 2012 NYPD Firearms Discharge Annual Report. When people wonder how police shoot one demographic more than another, one must look at who’s shooting them. They also have to ask honestly why they’re frisking in general, and these results in New York City in 2012 might indicate why: 5,689 gun arrests and only 60 police officers shot their weapons in 45 discharge incidents. Also note: 79% of the people who shoot cops are black; 69% of the people cops shoot are black — a large difference. Nationally 43% of the people who shoot cops are black; 25% of the people cops shoot are black — a huge difference. Thus, we can conclude that the percentage of cop-shooting victims that are black is far lower than the percentage of black shooters of cops. You’ll also likely never hear that reported in media, or analyzed in an academic study or criminal justice report.
REGULARLY PUBLISHED: ACLU stop-and-frisk data focusing on racial disparities by benchmarking to population, done by by Mother Jones (basis for above graphic), The New York Times, and The Washington Post. ALMOST NEVER PUBLISHED: NYPD’s annual report on crime suspects and arrests: Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City, 2011 (showing 16.2% of suspects are white, as are 24.4% of arrests) or Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City, 2016 (showing 16.3% of suspects are white, as are 18.1% of arrests). Population data by City Data. MY HYPOTHESIS: If those first two pie charts above are closely aligned, and they are, then there is no racial bias by police.

Far Less Stops, No Change in Demographics — How Is Stop-and-Frisk Racial Profiling Again, ACLU?

Besides the massive shooting increases, you can have an 80% drop in stops (6 times less), and another shocking thing happens (or doesn’t happen): The demographic percentages won’t change at all. As a Chicagoan who’s heard for years about “over-policing” in minority neighborhoods, I found this incredibly surprising. If “racial profiling” was truly occurring, the slices in the demographic pie chart would logically shift dramatically after huge reductions in stops. This is because the widespread civil rights theory supposes stops for black and brown citizens are more arbitrary, but not as much for white citizens. A generous reasoning is non-Hispanic whites are more likely to live in lower-crime, more economically advantaged neighborhoods in cities and are less likely to be stopped and frisked in general — the police simply aren’t there and aren’t looking for them. An ungenerous reasoning is simply that police are racist. A common refrain might be: “They get the white folks when they have to; they get the brown and black folks whenever they want to.”

This is how the ACLU presents their data. What they omit in this report on Chicago is “crime suspect” data (“case reports”) with percentages that mirror the percentages of stops. Does the ACLU want police to stop all populations equally, even if not all populations commit crime equally? It appears that’s their aim.
  • In 2011 in NYC, 9% of STOPS by NYPD were white. 685,724 stops total. 88% of stops were “innocent” or led to no known crimes. (SOURCE: ACLU stop-and-frisk data)
  • In 2016, 10% of STOPS by NYPD were white. 12,404 stops total. 76% of stops were “innocent” or led to no known crimes. (SOURCE: ACLU stop-and-frisk data)
  • 2011 in NYC, 16.2% of crime SUSPECTS were white according to all victims who could identify a race/ethnicity. 30.3% of overall victims were white. (SOURCE: NYPD’s annual report: Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City, 2011)
  • 2016 in NYC, 16.3% of crime SUSPECTS were white according to all victims who could identify a race/ethnicity. 23% of overall victims were white. (SOURCE: NYPD’s annual report: Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City, 2016)
More NYPD data the ACLU and media chose not to mention in 2011 as they radically redefined NYC policing.

Consider this Logic Exercise as Evidence of No Racism in Stop-and-Frisk in NYC:

OK, I’ll copy the following from ACLU stop-and-frisk data.

  • In 2011, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 685,724 times.
    605,328 were totally innocent (88 percent).
    350,743 were black (53 percent).
    223,740 were Latino (34 percent).
    61,805 were white (9 percent).
    341,581 were aged 14–24 (51 percent)
  • In 2016, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 12,404 times.
    9,394 were totally innocent (76 percent).
    6,498 were black (52 percent).
    3,626 were Latino (29 percent).
    1,270 were white (10 percent).
    [percentage aged 14–24 not provided]
  • The stops mostly match crime suspect data as reported by crime victims, both before and after “stop and frisk” ended. I continually argue this is the key benchmark, because that “reported crime” figure is not generated by pro-active policing. It is calculated by victims and 911 calls. (In 2016, 47.6% of suspects are black, and 52% of stops are black. This mirrors the breakdown in the “racist” 2011 period of “stop-and-frisk” when 49.8% of suspects were black and they were also 53% of stops.)
  • The massive drop in stops fell at nearly the exact same rate for all demographics — 49 times less for whites and 54 times less for blacks. (55 times less overall, with Latinos thrown in, and perhaps Asians.)
Look at the last 4 years on the right of this chart of Total Adult Arrests in NYC. Naturally, one would think with the focus of racial bias coming from racist police stops, you would see more than a small dip in arrests when “on paper” Terry stops reduced 5500%. The racial breakdown of suspects and arrests are still the same, see 2011 compared to 2016, even if totals are reduced slightly.

Why Isn’t The New York Times Researching ‘Fishy’ and Unbelievable Reductions in Stops that are 55 Times Less than a Few Years Earlier?

Incredibly, this graphic published by City Lab based on 2011 NYPD data cobbled together by the Prison Policy Initiative would look the EXACT SAME in 2017 except the tiny areas where the total numbers would go would be roughly 5500% smaller. Of course, they’re not going to publish that chart. Just as City Lab links to a preposterous story saying “stop and frisk” didn’t work in Chicago three-quarters through a year where stops went down about six times less and murders went up 60% — proving de-policing and ACLU reforms can cause homicide spikes in the hundreds, as a 2018 paper found. Also, if anyone really believes stops went down 55 times in NYC while crime levels are the same, I have an island of Manhattan to sell you in 2017 for 60 Guilders. My theory, totally unproven but based in logic and common sense, is that the NYPD are still interacting with the public at high levels, but are just not reporting each stop. They’re providing the numbers that will make their bosses happy. It makes no sense they have more than 50,000 drug arrests but barely more than 10,000 stops. Even so, despite the reduction, some social justice advocates are still are upset with the racial percentages being the same. The PhD candidates who author this research certainly aren’t asking the tough questions, like how the demographics of crime suspects nearly match their share of stops. Or the fact that when nearly all the gang members and high-crime neighborhoods are black and Latino, that may naturally lead to a gap of 16% white arrests vs. 23% black/Latino arrests involving force. That gap is often brought up as a critique without any attempt at an explanation. Which when considering the fact a black New Yorker is 50 times more likely to commit a shooting than a white New Yorker, just to use one crime stat, having “force” used in less than 1 in 6 white arrests and just more than 1 in 5 black and Latino arrests shouldn’t be surprising. Note they use a very liberal definition of “use of force” which includes “hands” touching as a category, which I dissected using Fryer’s analysis of black-white differences.
The New York Times slogan is: “All The News That’s Fit to Print.” What’s the point of this advocacy journalism if they don’t “fit” in all the relevant news, like how suspect data mostly matches stop data both before and after the “stop-and-frisk” era? And why not point out that whites are more discriminated against than Asians by police, if we’re going off the ACLU-collected data.
St. Louis is consistently one of the top 5 murder capitals in the United States. It got worse after Michael Brown was killed and the police officer involved was acquitted.

Crime Spikes After De-Policing: Chicago, Baltimore and St. Louis

It’s unfair to accuse police of being dramatically unfair to citizens based on their race, when the statistics don’t bear that out, such as use of force per stop or how the demographics of case reports match stop reports. Even in New York City during the infamous stop-and-frisk era one has to apply heavy doses of statistical and rhetorical spin to argue vastly different treatment of citizens per stop. For example, I took the “next step” in data analysis and discovered that suspects in New York City are “pushed to the ground” 1.3% of stops for blacks and 1.1% of stops for whites. Indeed, the ACLU and others repeat ad nauseum “But … New York City” as a superstitious garlic-to-a-vampire rebuttal to a crime spike because one didn’t happen in the Big Apple after so-called “racist” stop-and-frisk policies ended in 2013, which former mayor Rudy Giuliani predicted incorrectly. Yet the ACLU and media ignores cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and St. Louis which all had massive violent crime spikes the year after international headlines of a single black suspect’s death resulted in citizen unrest and police pulling back. So there’s three cities indicating one phenomenon in a Black Lives Matter world, and one other city years earlier indicating something different.

The murder spike happened in Baltimore directly after Freddie Gray’s death at the hands of police.

Milwaukee: Let’s Throw in a Fourth City to Counter the “But What About NYC’s Lack of Crime Spike?” Narrative

No wonder police chiefs lose their cool, like the Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn did in 2014 when he famously told reporters after a tense meeting with Black Lives Matter activists: “If some of the people here gave a good goddamn about the victimization of people in this community by crime, I’d take some of their invective more seriously.” He then added, “Now, they know all about the last three people that have been killed by the Milwaukee police department over the course of the last several years. There’s not one of them that can name one of the last three homicide victims we’ve had in this city.”

Medium Posts — Not Widely Read, but Heavily Researched

This brings me to the several Medium Pieces in 2016–2017, updated regularly for accuracy. Read more for evidence-based facts around so-called racism in the criminal justice system, and how the media and academia has all-but-ignored “The ACLU Effect,” possibly because they’re all playing follow-the-leader — and no one wants to follow the other leader when it’s Trump or our conservative lock-’em-up history. Especially when the prevailing cultural and political tide is all about criminal justice reform and exposing the racism of mass incarceration.

My graph using Roland Fryer’s data (new data in right column) based on the New York Times’ damning chart (left column). My theory: The New York Times and other media simply are scared of being accused of racism in today’s race-sensitive environment, a.k.a. “political correctness.”

How Roland Fryer’s Controversial Harvard Study on Racial Bias by Police Actually Shows Negligible Bias (or Brutality)

FiveThirtyEight & Libertarian — and the Media in General — Can’t Face the Obvious: The “Ferguson Effect” is Likely Happening & Trump May Have a Point About Crime

With 31.5% homicide jump, thousands more people died in the last two years of Obama’s presidency than in the first six years. But let’s not call it a “crime wave” or “unprecedented”?

“The 13th” and its Glaring Omission: Actual Crime that Mirrors Demographics

While Ava DuVarney’s movie asks important questions on incarceration, it ignores reasons why we lock people up a majority of people in the first place (hint: It’s not drugs)

Former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy doesn’t hold back on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on New Years Day 2017. When told there’s 80% fewer stops and 33% fewer arrests, while murders and shootings climbed to nearly 60% — all within a single year — McCarthy said, “When you have activity falling off the way it is and crime skyrocketing, that’s a huge problem.” He also implied he was a scapegoat for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, which was the widespread assumption after being fired in December 2015 amidst police reforms taking shape in the wake of the video release of the Laquan McDonald shooting.

No Bias In Chicago Policing Despite Mayoral and U.S. Government Reports & the “ACLU Effect”

Which would you rather have in your city?
A. Nearly 1400 more people shot with 300 more people killed.
B. Tens of thousands more citizens stopped by police, some unnecessarily.

SHOWN ABOVE: The new Investigative Stop Report (ISR) used by CPD after January 1, 2016. Stops went down 90% after police started using them. Remember that Contact Card shown in the section “Problems with DOJ Report: Part 2”? It was fairly small. This is only 1 side of 2 pages! Second City Cop, a blog for police to air their grievances gave their less-than-pleased perspective Jan 13, 2016: “And that’s only the paper version. You’re supposed to do it electronically … This whole system is being rolled out with ZERO training aside from a video. The classroom portion of this isn’t even scheduled to begin until March … the ACLU is getting every single copy of the card … Little wonder activity has dropped off by extraordinary amounts.”
Yes, this is side 2 of the ISR.

Police Stops: Switching from Contact Cards to the ISR

2016 in Chicago started with a nearly 90% drop in police stops and 80% increase in shootings citywide in January. CBS’ “60 Minutes” reported in a high-profile story that Chicago police stopped 80% less people in 2016 than the year before — arrested 33% less people overall — but citywide homicides increased nearly 60% by year’s end. Some point to the holistic reaction of the Laquan McDonald video being released in November 2015 (a.k.a. “The Laquan Effect”), but a new ACLU-designed investigative stop form implemented January 1, 2016, that takes 40–45 minutes to fill out per person has also been widely cited, from the former U.S. Attorney representing Chicago to the former Police Superintendent, as a major factor in the slow down.

Title this caption: A Tale of Two Sun Times Charts (That Say The Same Damn Thing). The above chart was found in a Chicago Sun Times article on 2/12/17 (“WATCHDOGS: 71 percent of Chicago cops’ street stops are of blacks”). The above blue chart also has the SAME information as the red chart below, also published in the Chicago Sun Times six weeks later on 3/25/17 (“Most police stops OK, but minorities face more patdowns — report”). Which graph seems more honest and clear to you? Could the first one be construed as deceptive to the average reader? (I admit doing a triple-take until I noticed the blue bars start at 22%.)
“Please let this ACLU reform end, please let this ACLU reform end, Please…”
March 2015: The Chicago Police Department prove they don’t “stop and frisk“ in a systemically racially biased manner by sharing with the media ONE key fact largely ignored: The demographic breakdown of contact cards issued closely mirrors the data in the department’s case reports. But the ACLU says they are racially biased anyways, then threaten to sue until they finally get what they want five months later. The results: 300 more people died in 2016 than in 2015.
Eddie Johnson, CPD Superintendent April 13, 2016 — present.
March 2018 UPDATE: A study came out on the ACLU Effect. And every article from the Chicago Tribune to the Chicago Sun Times was loaded with critics pushing back on the stringent analysis. Including the ACLU writing up their own post vilifying the study, of course. When even the conservative National Review can push back on an “ACLU Effect” when it’s as obvious as this graphic (above) showing Chicago homicides (orange line) spiking at the same time as stops dropping (blue line) then you know it’s an uphill struggle in the battleground of common sense. Read study here:

Research on “The Ferguson Effect”

The hyperfocus on policing called the “Ferguson Effect,” popularized by Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald and promoted by few others — mostly conservatives — willing to stick their neck out in a decriminalization environment, importantly note an immediate shift in crime in cities like Chicago, Baltimore and St. Louis.

The Results from ACLU Agreement One Year Later: No Difference in Racial Breakdown of Stops

Whatever the reasons for city-specific rises in crime, it’s beyond dispute that Chicago police have pulled back at an unprecedented rate. Despite the ACLU being pleased by that fact — just like they’d be pleased if police stopped wearing protective gear, even though the “militarization” of police has not led to more instances of lethal use of force and has saved both police and civilian lives — the leading litigator in civil rights cases nationally implied in early March 2017 that there’s continued policing problems when 71% of stops remain black despite the nearly six-fold drop in stops. Karen Sheley from the ACLU told the Chicago Tribune, “We see this as a work in progress.” The progress she’s looking for was implied in the Tribune headline: “New report shows Chicago police street stops down, minorities still stopped more.” It was also in the article itself, as the Tribune continues its focus — aping the ACLU and DOJ reports— on how interactions by police don’t match city demographics, “The report found that nearly 71 percent of stops were of African-Americans, though they make up only about a third of Chicago’s residents.” This is the exact same percentage breakdown as before the reforms, where racial disparities in stops and shootings was the focal point. However, all evidence shows stops (and police shootings) match almost exactly the demographics of perpetrators of Chicago’s crime as described by third parties, which is just over 70% black. Whites are just under 10% of stops, just as they are just under 10% of suspects. Again, stops went down 80% for every racial group at the same level, just like shootings went up nearly 60% for every demographic at the exact same level from 2015 to 2016.

The Chicago Tribune headline, March 14, 2017: “Fardon issues fiery letter on exit as U.S. attorney in Chicago” He still calls for court-mandated reforms for police.
When one has to agree with Megyn Kelly about the infamous “in your face” Chicago Black Lives Matter protester, it’s a rare day. But the evidence points in that direction.

The Crime Is Real: Contact Cards Match Crime Reports

If you think the difference in arrest is because police are out harassing citizens and finding crimes, ask yourself: How do they find 12x more sexual assaults? These are called in by victims (case reports). But from The Tribune to The Atlantic, the “10 times more” moments of use of force is lobbed as some law enforcement injustice, but it merely is a result of the 8–10 times more arrests that Chicago police are making because of actual crime. If case reports of descriptions of black perpetrators were in the 50–60% range, you would have evidence of racial bias and harassment of citizens when cops are arresting and shooting black citizens in the 70–80% range (whites are in the 5–10% range). Alas, that’s the not the case because they align almost perfectly at around 71–73%.

Contact Cards (police initiated); Case Reports (citizen initiated)

Yes, You Can Trust Police Stats

I know many critics say you can’t trust police stats because, well, they’re police stats. This is lazy, and defies logic, even if police may at times not issue honest reports. There’s two reasons why:

  1. It’s police stats that the DOJ and ACLU wields when saying police departments have systemic racial bias. (And as noted earlier, they usually make arguments by showing whole numbers and use-of-force disparities without contextualizing for which demographic commits more crime.)
  2. You can’t hide dead or shot bodies. The stats on black people killed by police match or are more favorable to blacks than arrest or use-of-force stats. (For example, nationally for Black Americans 25% are killed using lethal use of force, 27% are arrested, and 31% are on receiving end of use of force by police. In Chicago, blacks are 72% of arrests, 72% of stops, and, according to the DOJ, 76% of all uses of force. The DOJ also claims that blacks are “80% of all CPD firearm uses” despite the fact the mayoral task force in 2016 using presumably the same CPD data says blacks are 74% of those shot by police.)
Simple math: Divide killings by law enforcement by homicides by race. Roughly, 25% of victims of police shootings are black and 50% are non-Hispanic white (aggregated by The Guardian or The Washington Post). In terms of national homicide rates, 51.6% of victims and 53% of offenders are black (found in FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting), and around 30% of victims are non-Hispanic white (calculated by the Violence Policy Center’s data showing the following homicide victimization rate in 2010: Black = 19.47 per 100,000; Hispanic was 5.73 per 100,000; non-Hispanic white = 2.52 per 100,000). Total annual homicides in the United States in 2014 are nearly 16,000, according to the CDC. So using The Guardian totals with the CDC number, the black percentage is derived by dividing 306 / 7900 = .038 (3.8%); and the white percentage comes from dividing 581 / 5000 = .116 (11.6%). P.S. I did conjure up this Black Lives Matter “myth” before Heather Mac Donald similarly did. Her data is 100% correct, and fairly straightforward, as she puts police killings as a proportion of overall white deaths (and Hispanic deaths, too) at 12% and black deaths are at 4%. It’s also worth noting, with more than 12 million arrests annually, a fatal police shooting is an extraordinarily rare event.
Conservatives and liberals don’t deny this graph based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data is true. Then how come so many believe shootings have gotten worse for blacks? Fact: Those end-points on the right side match the crime rate.

Again, Context!

Police are killing vastly fewer black people than ever, but it’s rarely mentioned in the media. There is evidence that police are shooting up to 6 times less in Chicago today than in the 1970s. There were 148 people shot by police in 1975 and only 25 in 2015. Most of them were black. According to the New York Times, New York City had 91 fatal police killings in 1971, but only 8 in 2013. That’s 11 times less!

SOURCES (for 70–75% overlap for Case Reports, Contact Cards, and Police Shootings; thus proving no racial bias by Chicago Police):

Case Reports are the key. Case Reports show that Chicago victims and 911 calls (third-party observers) describe someone black more than 70% of the time, and at the SAME percentage as contact cards issued by police. Case Reports are HIGHER by 1–2% than the Contact Cards. As I wrote above, “If the Case Reports of descriptions of black perpetrators were in the 50–60% range, you would have evidence of racial bias and harassment of citizens if cops were stopping black citizens around 70% of the time. But that’s not the case. They are the same.”

SOURCES (for all others):

FBI Uniform Crime Statistics: 27% of of overall arrests and 36% of violent crime arrests are black.
SOURCE: — NOTES: Most of these are crimes with victims, who often have to come forward for the arrest. i.e. not at the discretion of police (unlike drug crimes and prostitution). The only crime by African Americans at their level of the population (12.5%) is drunk driving. Note also, that “white” includes 90% of the Hispanic/Latino proportion of crime, which is mentioned on the right side. So one can often shave roughly 15–25% off the “White” column, which is a common mistake.

Peer-reviewed Studies: Arrests Not Systemically Racist

“Results indicate that race does have an indirect effect on police contact, but it is White individuals who are more likely to be questioned and arrested.”
SOURCE (2016, Criminal Justice Review):

Extra Info & Idea: Maybe Reform ALL Police Departments Nationwide! Why? Because the Evidence Indicates the Chicago Police Department is No More Violent than Others

A story idea I have percolating is confronting the perception that police are more violent today. Some would say police are simply shooting more people countrywide in the 2010s. Others could say there were 200–300% more police killings in the 1970s. The latter appears likely, based on the evidence. I wrote earlier that NYC’s police are killing people up to 12 times less, which I would still find shocking if not reported by The New York Times. 4–6 times less Chicago police shootings are taking place now than in the 1970s. The homicide rate in Chicago in 2016 was nearly the same as 1974.

Beyoncé’s video for the song “Formation” showed a sinking police car. She said the message was not anti-police. Maybe she can raise up consciousness in the ways dangerous situations arise between Americans and police.
Trust me: The guys in the picture know policing problems are a lot more complicated than what Loretta Lynch is saying.

Addendum: The Chicago Tribune “Conservative” No Longer, Takes Sides Strongly with the ACLU and the Department of Justice

How the Tribune gets it wrong with this story and headline: “Editorial: What’s behind Chicago’s surge in violence?” This is from ostensibly from their traditionally “conservative” editorial board. To counter, this Doc is my in-depth critique of their bias and poor reporting:

See Also How the Traditionally “Conservative” Chicago Tribune Bias Often Bends to Ear of ACLU and Black Lives Matter, While Including Rank-and-File Police Sentiment, but Often Devoid of Contextual Facts Like Those Presented in this Post.

Last Word: Why Trump Won

I’m just noticing: There are no longer comments on Chicago Tribune posts. They’ve been erased. Perhaps there’s a new system. I can see why. They were overrun with “Trolls.” And frustrated Trump-leaning commenters. But also, some had rational reasons for lobbing complaints. 90% of them were ripping the Trib on every article or editorial about policing or city violence. Some were racist. A vast majority were simply angry at the Tribune’s coverage and felt police were getting a raw deal. I consistently agreed that policing wasn’t getting a fair shake, and context was being lost to the prevailing sentiment. It was an approach used by politicians, editors, and writers alike that likely caused a huge blowback to bedrock institutions. Republicans who say they have trust in the media has fell to 14%, down from 32% in 2015, according to a Sept. 2016 Gallup poll. I wouldn’t be surprised if mainstream media’s avoidance of key facts like crime rates, and the validation of activist groups like Black Lives Matter (now a Pepsi commercial) and protesters like Colin Kaepernick, contributed to Donald Trump’s narrow electoral victory. I’m not the only one.



Writer. Researcher. Designer. Human seeking better outcomes for all. Empiricism, relevant facts, and logical arguments > simple narratives.

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