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*)
* 4000 was my preliminary estimate using CDC data and a myriad of different sources. The official FBI number was around a 3000-person homicide increase. But you may have missed that with all the news stories of murderous police. Also note: This article is highly biased by utilitarian philosophy. I simply want less dead people, especially persons of color.
Table of Contents:
- Purpose of Analysis
- Problems with DOJ Report: Part 1
- 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)
- Academic Research Points to No Racial Bias in Police Arrests
- 2016 Arrests in Chicago are Less than Nationwide Average
- The ACLU Gets Defensive, Crime Spikes (Chicago, Baltimore & St. Louis) & Past Medium Posts
- No Bias In Chicago Policing & the “ACLU Effect”
- Extra Info & Idea: Maybe Reform ALL Police Departments Nationwide
- Addendum: The Chicago Tribune “Conservative” No Longer
- Last Word: Why Trump Won
By David Shuey
I’m a progressive. It deeply troubles me that Trump is in the White House today. However, one of the only positions of President Obama’s administration I believe was totally wrong was their federal oversight approach in investigating local police departments. Not that I’m against federal oversight; if there’s a substantial problem, I want the feds to fix it. I even used to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with a traffic sign and a figure of a cop shooting someone that said, “WARNING: POLICE IN AREA.” There have been problems stretching back to the 1960s, when three times as many black lives were snuffed out by police. Indeed, few know that black killings dropped 70% since 1968 while the rate remains the same for most other racial groups.
But as I dived into the evidence found within consent decrees and U.S. Department of Justice reports, from Ferguson to Baltimore to Chicago, I saw some glaring omissions. They mention instances of excessive force, but they don’t show how prevalent that use of force was. They argue there’s a racial bias in terms of disproportionate stops, but they never contextualized these disparities to the demographics of crime — or even to behavior. This should be basic in any argument for or against systemic bias.
Instead, their prevailing arguments were anecdotes — many unsettling, some similar to those I’ve heard personally from Chicago’s African American community, or even experienced — and pointing out how police interactions didn’t match municipality demographics. These were “systemic” problems because they said so. The U.S. Department of Justice under Obama spoke, just as Black Lives Matter did, and the mainstream media never questioned it. Especially when Eric Holder couldn’t show Darren Wilson was negligent in Michael Brown’s death, but he could argue the Ferguson Police Department was to its citizenry. Some FBI officials thought this was political. Frankly, I thought so, too.
There were Obama-era investigations of 25 law enforcement agencies, including my hometown of Chicago, and the U.S. Justice Department enforced agreements with 14 of them. Yet when the U.S. has possibly 3000-4000 more people dying by homicide in 2016 than in 2014 (homicide totals hovering around 19,000, half are African American), which I estimate based on FBI, CDC, and left-leaning Brennan Center think tank data, one has to wonder: How is it morally justifiable not to question the dominant social justice narrative that police are out-of-control and need to be reigned in and take a second look? Even if it — gulp — leaves open the possibility of partially agreeing with Tweet-loving politicians and political parties you loathe.
“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.
This is without controlling for types of arrests, just simply calculating use-of-force incidents against arrests for 2011–2016. The arrests are broken out by CPD arrest demographics in 2009 and 2010, which are virtually identical. To my surprise, the rate was even lower in Chicago for blacks than whites nationally. The national white rate (3.6) isn’t really much different than the national black rate (4.6), and all these rates mentioned are between 3.3–4.6 per 100 arrests, which I’ll get to in Part 1 of this analysis. If these aren’t apples to apples comparisons because of the methodological differences of calculating Chicago stats to national ones, they’re at least apples to apple pears. All say use of force does NOT happen between 95.4% to 96.7% of the time no matter if you’re black or white.
But here’s what’s the most interesting part of all this: I did not find these requisite rates in the Loretta Lynch-led January 2017 U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) report on the Chicago Police Department.
I did not see these rates in the media, or by a qualified statistician blogging somewhere.
However, I did quantify this vastly more relevant reality-based conclusion using data found within the DOJ report. And it took me less than two hours using a handful of spreadsheet cells. (And for those that say, “Well, you can’t trust law enforcement statistics,” it was those same police-provided statistics used by the DOJ to throw the Chicago Police Department under the bus — with nary a critical question from anyone, outside the Fraternal Order of Police.)
Certainly, this data Lynch had at her fingertips when she said at her January 13 press conference, “On the basis of this exhaustive review, the Department of Justice has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.” Really? According to numbers mentioned in the DOJ report, use of force — which may or may not be excessive, and is often necessary based on non-compliance — occurs when arresting black Chicagoans in about 1 in 25 instances and for white Chicagoans 1 in 30 instances. Nationally for blacks it’s 1 in 22 arrests and for whites it’s 1 in 28 arrests.
I also crunched (and super-munched) some numbers in a different tab of my stats spreadsheet and I am presenting here the first public indication that Chicago police are likely arresting citizens overall at a rate LOWER than the national average. This would be a shocking revelation if reported in the mainstream press or presented in academic research. [Feel free to get in touch to work with me on this: organica.design(at)gmail.com]As far as I know, I’m the first person to present such data and make clear comparisons — and I admit, it’s somewhat raw and could be refined with further information and methodological rigor. But the Justice Department, the media, and millions of people worldwide use far less to conclude that police are systemically racist. Or are regularly and unnecessarily brutal. I’m here to question these false conclusions that are being set in stone — and hopefully save lives.
There is not a single dominant statistical argument for overwhelming systemic and institutional racism within police departments. I’ll admit, there are minor arguments for how often complaints are sustained more favorably for whites in Chicago, and murky issues of disparities around stops and the discovery of contraband. For example, for all the talk of “Driving While Black,” when looking at disparities per stop the difference is nearly indiscernible, with 2011 Bureau of Justice statistics saying black people are given a reason for a stop 95.3% of the time, and for whites it’s 97.4%. The DOJ report for Chicago doesn’t deal in such statistics based on rate — they just data dump sum totals for blacks, whites, Asians and Hispanics, perhaps knowing that if they show “chances for X to happen per stop and/or arrest” that there would hardly be any difference based on race. (I suspect if they did the math and it doesn’t show “racism” clearly, they exclude such math.) Thus, I argue at a minimum many DOJ conclusions pose more questions than firm answers that would indicate racism is pervasive in America’s policing. More likely, Obama’s DOJ and others in media (from NPR to the New York Times) and social justice (from Black Lives Matter to the American Civil Liberties Union, a.k.a. the ACLU) expect equal outcomes, but know they don’t have a strong hand so they purposely focus on lump sum disparities and erase context. Much of what I write here I concluded after pouring over hundreds of pages of federal documents, academic studies, news reports, and countless indignant social media posts.
One indicator of bias is the DOJ didn’t even talk to former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who criticized the DOJ report in a 2016 Ted Talk for using faulty metrics such as applying city-wide demographic data to police actions. Basically, policing stops, arrests or use-of-force incidents that don’t match those percentages — the city is almost equal parts black, white, and Hispanic — indicate racial bias.
There are some questionable practices (over-ticketing), training, and budgetary issues in policing, for sure. And, of course, we have around 1000 annual shooting deaths at the hands of police nationwide — though I believe well over 90% are justified. (Roughly one-quarter are black, one-fifth are Latino/Hispanic, and one-half are non-Hispanic white.) Rarely in the context of police shootings is it pointed out we have a gun for every man, woman, and child in this country. Newsweek pointed out that in 2016 only 5% involved no weapon, 16 of which were unarmed black males who are one-third of the “unarmed” total. Few, if any, news outlets at the end of the year bothered to run the headline “Unarmed Black Victims are 2% of Total Fatal Police Encounters.” That is indisputably true, but doesn’t follow the media narrative that constantly plays up police hostility towards black Americans.
Let’s put it another way, and provide context for the landmark year 2016 — and do it in a way the mainstream media fails to acknowledge on a regular basis. Gunfire killings against police went up from 41 in 2015 to 64 in 2016, a significant increase of 56%. This includes five officers killed in ambush attacks in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge spanning 10 days in July, with both killers motivated in part by rhetoric pushed from Midwest governors to Black Lives Matter protests that police are killing black people indiscriminately. (This is a story only the conservative media tends to call attention to, such as The Washington Examiner reporting the following: “A FBI investigation into the spike of attacks on law enforcement has determined that revenge, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the media’s assault on police shootings, and criticism from politicians, is the what motivates a ‘majority’ of those targeting cops.”) As for police shootings tracked by The Washington Post the last two years, the unarmed total dropped nearly in half (9% to 5%), and overall shootings went down 3% from 991 in 2015 to 963 in 2016 . You could cut 100% of “unarmed” shootings, and the overall total number of people killed by cops would only lower 9%.
So, police killed slightly less people in 2016 than 2015, while vastly more police were being killed. Society killed possibly 13% more people in 2016 [Update: It was an 8.6% increase, the stats confusion lies with shoddy Brennan Center for Justice data presentation that led to shoddy Newsweek journalism.] This is on top of a 10.8% increase the year before, which was the largest homicide increase since 1971.
Little known fact: More black people died from the INCREASE in homicides alone in Chicago, St. Louis, and Baltimore after protests than shot and killed by police total in all 50 states (233). Chicago alone had 300 additional people killed in 2016, at least three-quarters of the victims were black.
Frankly, on the whole, I find the blame for society’s ills far too often is squarely placed on police. Pardon the pun, but it’s an easy cop-out. Yes, I once thought many were racist power-trippers myself. Not so much anymore, even though some are certainly jerks, sexists, and racists. There’s just not enough police acting upon overt or implicit biases to skew the data to indicate structural racism or widespread, arbitrary violence. One has to evolve their thinking with facts and new information, after all.
THIS WEEK’S STORIES OF ATTORNEY JEFF SESSIONS’ ACTIONS:
Latest Sessions move leaves future of Chicago police reform in question
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' order to review federal court agreements that bind city police departments to…
Sessions orders Justice Department to review all police reform agreements
Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police…
Sessions tells DOJ to revisit Obama-era agreements with local police departments
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered the Justice Department to review reform agreements the Obama administration…
Sweeping Federal Review Could Affect Consent Decrees Nationwide
WASHINGTON - Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a sweeping review of federal agreements with dozens of law…
Baltimore leaders pledge police reform will occur with or without consent decree
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to the city's pending consent decree…
DONALD TRUMP’S SOMEWHAT VAGUE 1/24/17 TWEET ON CHICAGO’S CONTINUED VIOLENCE:
“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.”
I wrote an analysis on that controversial Trump Tweet back in January, and wrote the following:
“There’s also a double-digit growth in the homicide rate nationally for two consecutive years nationally — a 31.5% increase from 2014 to 2016, says the Brennan Center. With nearly 16,000 homicides per year in 2014, this averages out to 1500–2000 more people killed each year than the year before. Half of those are black lives. Why the hell isn’t this being discussed as a national emergency? How are those numbers wrong or this isn’t “carnage”?
EVERYTHING BELOW: MY ANALYSIS OF NATIONWIDE POLICING, CHICAGO POLICING, & THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DOJ) JAN 2017 REPORT ON CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT (Originally Compiled in Jan-Feb 2017)
Purpose of Analysis
The 161-page DOJ Report: www.justice.gov/opa/file/925846/download
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.
Mistreatment of citizens and suspects of diverse backgrounds is the linchpin to systemic racism, and systemic racism is the main critique of police within these reports. There’s no denying there are several distinct civil rights violations and improvements are needed, including police oversight, greater transparency, and training. I do believe as many as 5–10 times more police officers nationally should be held accountable for shootings, because in recent years less than 1% are ever deemed unjustified. But much of the most damning parts of these reports are anecdotal, as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated and was criticized for. If the police were stopping black people (contact cards) at a higher percentage than the crime rate (case reports), a civil rights case of systemic racial injustice could be made. If use of force against any demographic was disproportionate to the arrest rate, that irregularity would be a red flag. If the use-of-force rate, not sum totals, were higher in large American cities than smaller communities or nationwide averages, there’d be a smoking gun to ask bigger questions. However, there’s no evidence this is happening. Nor is there evidence the report attempts to present that information. Instead, this report and others only asks if there’s a disparity based on the city’s overall population. The DOJ report simply says it’s wrong that one-third of Chicago is black but they’re more than one-third of the city’s use of force cases. How is that fair to police? How does that help make our communities safe when in 2016 there was a 57% increase in homicides, 75–80% of which are African Americans (5% white, 19% Hispanic), and taking place mostly in the West Side and South Side of Chicago?
As it stands from evidence conveniently left out of the DOJ report: Police stops and arrests of blacks, whites, and Latinos match the percentage of suspects called into 911!
Unfortunately, a multitude of factors, including the hangover of poverty borne from American slavery and Jim Crow, lead to criminality. Regardless of the origins, it’s the behavior of citizenry rather than bias of police that lead to negative outcomes. And readers may be surprised to find how FEW times police initiate lethal force in a dangerous city like Chicago with a reputation for corrupt police practices. In a word, they’re “average.” Intriguingly, case reports have all but been scrubbed from internet media reports; the only way I found a key piece of Chicago police data that justifies the racial mix of their stops was from a web archive that preserved a now deleted WBEZ NPR-affiliate page.
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?
What is the quantified evidence for systemic police abuse and civil rights violations? What criteria does the DOJ set to open an investigation, let alone determine injustice, outside a single high-profile incident? (Short answer: They don’t have any.)
From the evidence I’ve gleaned from uncontroversial sources, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is not doling out abuse or shooting citizens greater than the national average. Approximately 1 out of 300,000 citizens is the Chicago rate of police killings Dec. 2014 thru Dec. 2016. This is the same rate as rate as nationwide, but I’ve yet to see that highly relevant fact reported in the Chicago Tribune or in other media reports — and I’ve read dozens if not well over 100.
I repeat: In the most widely publicized example of of police overreach and possible discrimination — lethal use of force by police — Chicago cops are NOT surpassing the national average per capita.
This is remarkable due to the fact Chicago cops operate in a city with around 6 times more shootings and homicides in 2016 than the national average. (The homicide rate is near 28 per 100,000 in Chicago, nationally it’s around 5 per 100,000.) Yet, police in the Windy City have killed no more and no less than any other law enforcement department in the country in the year before and the year after the video of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times in the street by a Chicago police officer was released. It would be hard to argue a police pull-back is simply a reaction to negative media attention, as the calendar year 2015 was nearly over, and only 9 citizens killed by police, when the video was shown on global news networks and social media. (Though, Ferguson in 2014 may have had something to do with it.) I also found this national average rate of 1 in 300,000 the same in other major cities with racially diverse populations, indicating that police violence isn’t isolated to poor inner cities. Utah’s second most common form of homicide is police shootings, for instance.
What’s obvious to me is that police are remarkably poised about NOT shooting in a systematically dangerous or racially biased way. No one knows the story of those — because they didn’t happen and end up on the evening news. What else is there to say when Chicago police shootings went down by half the last 2 years to 25 total annually, representing a little more than one-half of one percent of all shootings in the city?
Regardless, nowhere in the report could I find comparisons of Chicago to national statistics. Nor do they contextualize as I did in July 2016 and August 2016 what “20% more” instances of use of force for one group over another with controls for crime really means. (Answer: Very little difference.)
What’s obvious is the DOJ report does not give police the benefit of the doubt, nor does it try to. Over and over in the report, there’s mention of “unlawful conduct” and “unlawful use of force,” but without defining what those are or measuring how often they happen. “Excessive use of force” is ostensibly defined (page 23), but then one learns, “Courts interpreting the term ‘pattern or practice’ in similar statutes have established that statistical evidence is not required.” Search “disparities,” “crime,” “prevalence” and “criminal activity” and none of those sections mention how communities of color suffer from crime in disparate ways. This is a noticeable omission, not to mention borderline unethical if attempting to make a systemic argument. Search “stats” or “statistics” and come up with “No word matches found” but search for “systemic” and discover 22 total mentions, most of them “systemic deficiencies,” often arguing there’s too much police violence directed at poor communities. But statistical prevalence is nowhere to be found, as the overall result isn’t dramatically skewed by racist actions of a few.
Thus, this report, as well as others such as the 163-page damning DOJ report on Baltimore policing and Ferguson’s, contain a significant and fundamental error: Sidelining context of verifiable criminal activity. They simply don’t include it. For instance, page 145 of the DOJ report on Chicago policing makes NO attempt to benchmark the disparities of use of force to crime — but merely mentions a larger police presence with their “unreasonable” actions (a word mentioned 68 times with no explanation of what defines “unreasonable”) — as it states the following:
As described throughout this Report, our investigation found that Chicago’s black residents collectively have a very different experience with CPD than do Chicago’s white residents. Many low-income black and Latino neighborhoods suffer the greatest harm of violent crime in Chicago. Residents in these neighborhoods, not surprisingly, have more frequent police interactions.With these interactions come the harms of unreasonable force that arise from CPD’s systemic deficiencies outlined here and throughout this Report. The result is that Chicago’s black and Latino communities experience more incidents of unreasonable force. These are the very communities who most need and call on the police to fight violent crime, and where police and community trust and cooperation is most important.
Blacks, Latinos, and whites make up approximately equal thirds of the population in Chicago, but the raw statistics show that CPD uses force almost ten times more often against blacks than against whites. For example, of all use-of-force incidents for which race was recorded between January 2011 and April 18, 2016, black individuals were subject to approximately 76% (19,374) of the uses of force, as compared to whites, who represented only 8% (2,007) of the force incidents. In some categories of force, blacks were even more overrepresented: black individuals were the subject of 80% of all CPD firearm uses and 81% of all Taser contact-stun uses during that time period. CPD’s data on force incidents involving youth also showed stark disparities: 83% (3,335) of the incidents involved black children and 14% (552) involved Latino children. [NOTE: 14% is half the percentage of Latinos’ overall population in Chicago, thus not overrepresented, and no context for gang activity is mentioned. And rate of criminality and reasons for interaction are omitted.]
These data strongly support what we repeatedly and consistently heard from both law enforcement and community sources: Chicago’s black and Latino communities live not only with higher crime, but also with more instances of police abuse. Starting from a young age, black and Latino people, especially those living in Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods, have a vastly different experience with police than do white people. These negative, often tragic, interactions form the basis of minority communities’ distrust of police.
This was the most widely referenced section of the report in the media. It’s so problematic, I don’t know where to start. Maybe with a Part 1 and a Part 2, then go from there.
Problems with DOJ Report: Part 1 (sources below)
The issue isn’t whether police say or email racist things. The argument of “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional behavior rides on if law enforcement is acting on those racists impulses. I believe because the U.S. Department of Justice gathered evidence and anecdotes of discriminatory beliefs and behavior, they spun their report to highlight discriminatory results. They missed one basic thing: Contextualizing for crime rates. They couldn’t prove, because it wasn’t reality, that police used force at rates twice as high against minorities. Thus, like increases in national homicide rates, Lynch omitted to mention how bad crime is in certain communities, but instead focused on how bad the police are.
It’s mind-boggling when you think about it. The DOJ report simply states the following, “Blacks, Latinos, and whites make up approximately equal thirds of the population in Chicago, but the raw statistics show that CPD uses force almost ten times [10x] more often against blacks than against whites.”
This part of the report is arguably the most widely reported statistic from the DOJ report in January 2017. They present it as definitive proof of shady, violent police behavior, yet they omit the demographics of crime in the city. NPR, USA Today, The Washington Post, Vox, and The Chicago Tribune all reported that use of force occurred “almost” 10 times more often for black residents than white ones, and all did not factor in human behavior that would lead to an interaction with law enforcement. Nowhere do they mention in the DOJ report that the “almost ten times more” (10x) use-of-force figure is borderline to case reports issued by victims or 911 calls of suspects (8x), or contact cards by police (8x). Nor do they point out that robbery arrests are 24x higher for blacks than whites according to 2009 CPD arrest data. Other arrest figures: 12x higher for criminal sexual assault; 27x higher for murder; and 10x higher for aggravated battery. The media also ignored these readily available contextual realities.
(Also, for context, residents in gentrified cities like Chicago with concentrated areas of poverty have much higher disparity rates by race than nationwide; for example, blacks nationally are 8 times more likely to commit murder than whites.)
The U.S. Department of Justice under Loretta Lynch simply does not state how there are vastly large racial disparities in hyper-segregated cities like Chicago when it comes to crime. My analysis of the arrest data in the 2009 CPD annual report concludes (calculated difference in parentheses):
- 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)
Instead, the DOJ report simply massages statistics to make this blistering point (page 15):
“Our investigation found also that CPD has tolerated racially discriminatory conduct that not only undermines police legitimacy, but also contributes to the pattern of unreasonable force. … We have serious concerns about the prevalence of racially discriminatory conduct by some CPD officers and the degree to which that conduct is tolerated and in some respects caused by deficiencies in CPD’s systems of training, supervision and accountability. In light of these concerns, combined with the fact that the impact of CPD’s pattern or practice of unreasonable force fall heaviest on predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods, restoring police-community trust will require remedies addressing both discriminatory conduct and the disproportionality of illegal and unconstitutional patterns of force on minority communities..
In addition, this is about the only utterance of the high crime rate in minority areas in the DOJ report:
“Chicago’s black and Latino communities live not only with higher crime, but also with more instances of police abuse.”
That’s it. That’s all they mention about crime. I frankly have one word for that: Stupid.
Does this mean Lynch’s U.S. Justice Department want police to spread across the city evenly, in all neighborhoods? Should they make arrests and stops demographically in “equal thirds”? The Department of Justice under Holder and Lynch strongly implies the CPD should because that’s the standard under which they are criticized. Is that really what the black and brown communities want? One shouldn’t assume so. In New York City in 2016, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 50% of black residents approve of “Broken Windows” policing, and citywide 57% of New Yorkers were OK with “having police issue summonses or make arrests for so-called quality of life offenses.” A 2015 Gallup poll says more blacks (38%) want a greater police presence in their local communities than do whites (18%). 10% of blacks want a smaller police presence, while 8% of whites say the same. That means 9 out of 10 blacks want the same number or more police in their communities. No doubt, they want a more respectful one, too, and anecdotally, I myself have heard horrendous stories about the CPD. But statistics also bear out that police are using less lethal force today than in decades, and peer-reviewed studies prove a more diverse force doesn’t mean less incidents of violence against minorities. People talk all the time about how police interactions would vastly improve if there weren’t so many white cops patrolling minority neighborhoods. However, it’s true that 80% of the people black officers kill are black compared to 25% by all police officers.
I believe the Obama DOJ, ACLU and other liberal perspectives that all stops should be proportional to the population demographics of a city is not only naive and ignorant of the facts, it is also disingenuous. A glaring question lingers: Why doesn’t the logic of racial disparity in stops extend to gender disparity? The dead giveaway that they know the shaky foundation of their argument rests on sand is that no one says 50% of stops should be female. Should they? Because stops, arrests, and use of force encounters certainly are “sexist” as women are on the receiving end of law enforcement contacts a fraction of the time men are. Of course, this reasoning is the height of ridiculousness. It is the exact same reasoning that is all over DOJ, ACLU and other civil rights reports as it pertains to race.
Let me contextualize this situation another way for those liberal skeptics who say police are still over-targeting African Americans. What if it was reported as fact, as The Guardian did in 2014 in an article shared 60,000 times, that members of college fraternities were 300% (3x) more likely to commit rape. Now what if, in one hypothetical, it was reported college fraternity members were no more or less likely to be charged or arrested for rape than any other male on campus? Would this not be characterized as an example of unequal justice? We’d surely see protests in front of fraternities and administration buildings nationwide. (Even without knowing if this is true or not, the 300% higher claim alone is widely used as a rallying cry to ban fraternities.) What if, in a second hypothetical, “frat bros” were charged at a rate 3x higher than the rest of the male student population, but the U.S. Department of Justice issued an investigative report as if they’re being treated unfairly. How appropriate would the following statement be as it insinuates police bias? “Fraternity members make up approximately an equal third of the male student body population at American campuses, but the raw statistics show that three times [3x] more often they are charged and arrested than other male students and consequently three times as likely to receive use of force during these arrests.”
That would be dumb, right? It’s the rate that matters, not the sum total. But that’s not how the U.S. Department of Justice saw it these past few years. And if you missed it, that last sentence of the previous paragraph was written exactly like the arguably most damning sentence in the DOJ report on the Chicago Police Department. “Blacks, Latinos, and whites make up approximately equal thirds of the population in Chicago, but the raw statistics show that CPD uses force almost ten times [10x] more often against blacks than against whites.”
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.
The bottom line is simple: If you’re going to imply the Chicago Police Department is racist by pointing out the shocking fact that “almost 10 times more” blacks than whites are on the receiving end of police use of force but don’t mention that blacks are “8 times more” on the giving end of initiating crime based on victim reports, 911 calls, and tip-offs to police (video cameras, etc.) — i.e. not the police themselves — then how can you say your DOJ report is anywhere close to treating fairly those charged with upholding the law? If you fail to point out that the arrests that could likely lead to violent outcomes (criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery, robbery, murder) are 10 to 27 times greater for one demographic over another, how can say that particular government report is “honest”? How is the U.S. Department of Justice under Obama able to justify rolling out to the media these large bulk numbers and rate disparities of violent police incidents without any context, such as not indicating whether it happens more or less than the national average or other cities?
This is an important question: Are the Chicago police really acting worse — aggressively using force — than police in other American cities, particularly when you add the violent crime they face into the mix?
I often think after reading a particular stat, “OK, the report says there’s 19,374 incidents of use of force against black Chicagoans — that sounds like a lot, but is that a lot? Well, it’s tons more than the 2,007 use-of-force incidents for whites, right?” Admittedly, later when writing on Medium I’ll think some more and start breaking down the numbers. “Wait, that’s over the course of more than 5 years? Damn, I almost didn’t catch that. Now that my brain’s working, I have an obvious question: How many annual arrests of black Chicagoans are there total? Oh, I can check that, too. According to an old CPD annual report, there were 130,082 black arrests in 2009 in Chicago, 72% of the total, as well as 16,141 white arrests. Is there a statistician in the U.S. Justice Department, or anyone who can handle simple math and division and provide context?”
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)
How was this done? I divided the average annual instances of use of force over a 5-year period (3,693 for blacks, 383 for whites) with the arrests for the same period (92,328 for blacks, 11,541 for whites).
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.
If people still have a problem with that disparity, there are two important arguments to prove why that small difference isn’t caused by police racism:
- 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%.
All this data I either calculated or summarized myself using easily available data and using math a 7th grader could do.
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.
The #1 question for me: Why didn’t the U.S. Department of Justice show the RATE of black and white Chicagoans arrested with use of force? They simply show two sharply contrasting numbers — 19,374 for blacks and 2,007 for whites. Perhaps they DID know the rates were similar, but it didn’t drive home the point that there’s “systemic deficiencies” in Chicago — just like how stats on police arrests and third-party case reports were omitted, as well as contextualizing with the rest of the United States. They needed the statistical narrative to match the anecdotal narrative. That’s just a theory — or conspiracy — but it would also be an obvious argument of Obama-era liberal bias because even progressive police monitoring groups focus on the rate, like the Center for Policing Equity. This allows apples to apples comparisons as opposed to apples and oranges comparisons, which is this DOJ report.
Simply, the DOJ report says on page 22, “We found reasonable cause to believe that CPD has engaged in a pattern or practice of unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that the deficiencies in CPD’s training, supervision, accountability, and other systems have contributed to that pattern or practice.” I have no doubt there are some deficiencies, but if their very own data police shows police use force in around 3.3–4.0% of arrests — white, black or Latino — and the national average is 3.6–4.6%, then wouldn’t the entire country’s police force be acting in an “unconstitutional” manner? And how do they define “unreasonable”? (They don’t.)
The DOJ report also doesn’t provide whole numbers of Chicago Police department complaints or percentage breakdowns by race. However, a 2015 new database made available after a FOIA request showed how there’s a disparity in sustained complaints, as well as total issued. I won’t get into the reasons on the sustained gap — and nearly half the complaints are issued by women, which is interesting given their low levels of criminality — but I wish to simply point out that there’s more than TWICE the rate of interactions with police (stops, arrests) as there are complaints when it comes to blacks and whites. Of these four bullet points below indicating police/citizen interaction, the latter two have nothing to do with police discretion or activity, as they are initiated by citizens themselves. And the last bullet is based on the Citizens Police Data Project of allegations of police misconduct.
- 72% of total CPD arrests are black, 9% are white (8x)
- 72% of total CPD contact cards (stops) are black, 9% are white (8x)
- 73% of total CPD case reports (crime reports) are black, 9% are white (8x)
- 61% of total complaints of CPD misconduct are black, 20% are white (3x)
Any of this comparative data would be both easy to do, and essential in understanding the differences in racial outcomes involving police — or justifications for it. If these stats align, doesn’t that mean police bias is negligible or non-existent? Another huge question also lurks: If bias was a systemic phenomenon and cops were lying about stats to cover up for their overzealous policing of black and brown citizens, wouldn’t the police complaint percentage be higher than the actual interaction rate? It’s rational to conclude that. While other factors may be involved, that 61% total complaints data point, along with the fact case reports match arrests and contact cards, may be the smoking guns indicating that police data should be trusted. Regardless, the above bullets say it simply: Whites are likely complaining much more than their interaction with police.
Frankly, several parts of the DOJ report are lazily written and omit citizen behavior just like Ferguson’s DOJ report. Key arguments haven’t been properly vetted in the media, despite coming off a year with at least 270 moreChicago murders at the exact time police pulled back precipitously during the same time this report was written. Some, myself included, could call that immoral. Others call that political correctness.
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.): http://4abpn833c0nr1zvwp7447f2b.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2009-Annual-Report.pdf
My arrest analysis spreadsheet of the CPD Annual Report PDF: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FU0YyGjJE_lrCJl0tWtpnQtomLpaKlp_3gyjuM_odGY/edit#gid=1043077853
Case Reports, or crime incident reports, which show victims and 911 calls give a description of someone black more than 70% of the time, and at the SAME percentage as contact cards issued by police. HERE IS THE “HOLY GRAIL” SOURCE on Case Reports (this CPD data isn’t anywhere else and is scrubbed from the web):
Additional CPD Evidence on Case Reports: (2013: “CPD’s Collins also said that for the first six months of this year, the racial demographics of the contact cards strongly resembles the ratio of suspect demographics of those in crime incident reports.”): https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-news/poor-data-keeps-chicagos-stop-and-frisk-hidden-from-scrutiny/29c466ab-d556-4883-9850-4b8499b80003
(As of 2018, this has been deleted): https://www.aclu-il.org/en/stop-and-frisk-chicago-what-data-shows
Same data here: https://www.aclu-il.org/sites/default/files/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ACLU_StopandFrisk_6.pdf
Poll that Blacks want more police, not less:
A 2016 Center for Policing Equity Report showing 4.6 per 100 arrests involve use of force for blacks, and 3.6 per 100 arrests for whites:http://policingequity.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/CPE_SoJ_Race-Arrests-UoF_2016-07-08-1130.pdf
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.
Nothing here is inaccurate, and sources are at the end. Just the facts. I presented these rates earlier, but here they are again:
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.)
Police nationally the last two years have shot and killed about 1 person per 300,000 residents. (Precisely, 318 million U.S. population ÷ 991 shooting deaths by police in 2015 according to The Washington Post = 1 in 320,888. 318 million ÷ 1146 deaths by police — including off-duty killings and accidents — in 2015 according to The Guardian = 1 in 277,000. Overall, police killings dipped slightly in 2016, making for a two-year average of 1 in 329,000 for The Washington Post and 1 in 288,000 for The Guardian.)
San Francisco shooting deaths, also about 1 in 300,000 residents, with anew outside-the-SFPD black police chief hired due to shooting controversies. If one says many of these killings are black, one can also say blacks in SF are 9.6 times more likely than whites to be charged with resisting arrest. (Averaging 2.5 deaths per year in a city more than three times smaller than Chicago = 1 in 334,800.)
Chicago police also face 4 to 6 times greater levels of homicidal violence than the national average of 4–5 killings per 100,000. (In 2016: 750+ homicides and 4000+ shooting victims, a murder rate of about 28 per 100,000 and an increase of 57%.)
Indisputably, Chicago police, as inner city police in general, are shot at and engage in violence in a much different way than the average police officer nationwide. I recall hearing on the Chicago Public Radio affiliate WBEZ.org — though I’ve had difficulty corroborating the information — that Chicago police in 2016 were shot at (not hit) more times than they shot a citizen directly, which is around 25 times. (The period in which the DOJ report covers police-involved shootings found 223 between January 1, 2011 and March 21, 2016, so around 40 per year.) But for every one mention on an NPR affiliate about people shooting cops in the United States (more than 4 out of 10 shooters are black) there’s seemingly countless other mentions of blacks being shot by white cops (less than 3 out of 10 are black).
Re-read the above, and check the sources below. Think about that with an open mind. San Francisco and several other large American cities have the EXACT same rate of shootings by police as the national average.Basically, shootings and deaths by police are spread equally throughout the country geographically and demographically — and in accordance to crime. But all we hear in the news is single-case examples of racism in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Staten Island (New York City), and Ferguson (basically, St. Louis).
Black Americans nationally are:
- 25% of those being killed by police (The Guardian, Washington Post)
- 31% of those on receiving end of use of force (Center for Policing Equity)
- 27% of the those arrested (FBI Uniform Crime data 2015)
- 36% of those arrested for violent crimes (FBI)
- 51% of those arrested for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter (FBI)
- 54% of those arrested for robbery (FBI)
- 43% of the persons killing cops (Washington Post)
Catch that in the first and last bullet? Cops kill blacks 25% of the time. But going the other way it’s 43%. If bewildered that lethal force is slightly less than use of force, the answer is found in research as well.
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:
Violent Crime Arrests, Drug Arrests + Police Killings Rate = Stats that Matter https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/126uhTSpBJL6tbhQJBEg0rCoK-YYczERUjnqAhCgkRCQ/edit#gid=1227724185
1. Police Killings per Arrest in the USA
2. Demographics of Violent Arrests & Drug Arrests
3. Is #SayHerName Wrong?
4. Sophie’s Choice: Black or White
And here are my conclusions:
- 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.
Note: Not all killings occur during arrests, but it’s a solid, reliable data point on interactions.
From tab titled “ Is #SayHerName Wrong?”:
- Unarmed killings of both whites and blacks are low (Washington Post data: 5–10% of total).
- White women are killed at a slightly higher % of times while unarmed than black women (Guardian 36% vs. 28%, Washington Post 13% vs 13%).
- Women are killed 5 times lower than their interaction rate with police (5% of total killings and 26% of arrests).
- 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 suspect … Our 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.”
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.
The Center for Policing Equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice:
“The mean use of force rate for Black citizens was higher than that for White citizens in all categories, save the use of lethal force, when controlling for arrests for all offenses.”
Surprise, the Center for Policing Equity does NOT emphasize how lethal use of force is lower. Most of their groundbreaking document “The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force” focuses on disparities that are disadvantageous to blacks along the use-of-force continuum. The research was reported on by The Washington Post, PBS and The New York Times, among others — sometimes misleadingly. Basically, how can it prove racial bias is so great if there’s slightly more than 20% difference before contextualizing violent crimes, resisting arrest rates, and violence against police — all of which occur at higher rates for blacks than whites. There is one passing mention on page 20 of the research when they say “save the use of lethal force” but they don’t expand on the topic and except for conservative Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald, media outlets didn’t report it or look into it.
In fact, The New York Times reported,“The researchers said they did not gather enough data specifically related to police shootings to draw conclusions on whether there were racial disparities when it came to the fatal confrontations between officers and civilians so in the news.” Thus, how can the report mention, “save for use of lethal force,” and include a bar chart that is clearly higher for whites than blacks. Coincidentally, the statistic that blacks are 24% MORE likely to receive force than whites (the difference from 36 out of 1000 arrests involving force for whites, and 46 out of 1000 arrests for blacks) is the inverse of Roland Fryer’s conclusions that blacks are 24% LESS likely to receive lethal force than whites. This variable will surely change slightly based on the data set, but the chart on page 19 clearly shows in the column “lethal” a disparity favoring blacks — matching Fryer’s conclusions — based on “12 agencies serving populations ranging from under 100,000 to over 1 million, with a median size of roughly 600,000 residents.” Page 17’s Table 5 even indicates greater use of force for whites than blacks during violent arrests. Again, the Center for Policing Equity chose purposely not to highlight this fact that would counter the narrative of racially biased police killing black people disproportionately and without regard for their well-being. However, the evidence is there in black and white (and on Figure 2, shades of grey).
The Social Cognition Laboratory, led by Joseph Cesario of Michigan State University:
“Taken in total, the above analyses, while in no way conclusive, are consistent with the idea that Black citizens are not more likely to be killed by police gunfire once the frequency of criminal or suspected criminal activity is taken into account … In sum, then, once we take into account the frequency with which Blacks and Whites interact with police in a criminal context (in terms of arrests), there is no bias against Black citizens in being killed by police. In contrast, Whites are consistently more likely to be shot and killed.It seems unlikely that these numbers are skewed to any meaningful degree by racism on the part of officers’ arrest decisions.”
(June 2018 update: This analysis was turned into a paper below, i.e. see the “eighth” study added. Though it’s tied with this one, which isn’t a research paper. It’s also worth noting that the bottom of of each page on the Cesario Lab website links to the Heterodox Academy, which is attempting to bring more viewpoint diversity into higher education.)
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:
The study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, provides a nuanced view of the intersection of race and law enforcement in America. In the analysis, researchers from the U.S. and Australia used several national databases and hospital records, spanning a range of years from 2011–2015, to count the number of injuries and deaths inflicted by law enforcement officers during stops, searches and arrests. Approximately one in every 291 police stops or arrests ends in injury or death, the researchers found.
Racial minorities — especially blacks and Native Americans between ages 15–29 — were more likely to be stopped and searched or arrested by the police than whites.
The ratios of death or injury across races, once a person is stopped, are the same, which initially surprised lead study author Ted Miller, principal research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland. “Maybe the decision to pull you over was racially biased; maybe the decision to arrest you once you were pulled over was racially biased,” Miller says. “But who a police officer kills or injures is probably more of a function of who resists arrest or who pulls out a knife or gun,” he says. The chance that a firearm injury or a hospital-admitted injury would be fatal was also the same across races.
SOURCE with key abstract excerpt below: http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2016/07/27/injuryprev-2016-042023
Objective To count and characterise injuries resulting from legal intervention by US law enforcement personnel and injury ratios per 10 000 arrests or police stops, thus expanding discussion of excessive force by police beyond fatalities.
Population Those injured during US legal police intervention as recorded in 2012 Vital Statistics mortality census, 2012 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project nationwide inpatient and emergency department samples, and two 2015 newspaper censuses of deaths.
Exposure 2012 and 2014 arrests from Federal Bureau of Investigation data adjusted for non-reporting jurisdictions; street stops and traffic stops that involved vehicle or occupant searches, without arrest, from the 2011 Police Public Contact Survey (PPCS), with the percentage breakdown by race computed from pooled 2005, 2008 and 2011 PPCS surveys due to small case counts.
Results US police killed or injured an estimated 55 400 people in 2012 (95% CI 47 050 to 63 740 for cases coded as police involved). Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics had higher stop/arrest rates per 10 000 population than white non-Hispanics and Asians. On average, an estimated 1 in 291 stops/arrests resulted in hospital-treated injury or death of a suspect or bystander. Ratios of admitted and fatal injury due to legal police intervention per 10 000 stops/arrests did not differ significantly between racial/ethnic groups. Ratios rose with age, and were higher for men than women.
Conclusions Healthcare administrative data sets can inform public debate about injuries resulting from legal police intervention. Excess per capita death rates among blacks and youth at police hands are reflections of excess exposure. International Classification of Diseases legal intervention coding needs revision.
Another 2017 study called “A Bird’s Eye View of Civilians Killed by Police in 2015” that actually dealt with The Washington Post data indicates there could be some implicit bias in the handful of unarmed shootings nationwide, or when the offender is not attacking. But they make larger point that these incidents are rare, and unarmed individuals are 10% of total killed. This is the seventh study I’ve included here.
One of the co-authors, Justin Nix, co-wrote an opinion piece in The Hill in January 2018 using data from his study, and pointed out how rare police shootings are:
The Post’s data cannot tell us whether police officers are biased when deciding to use deadly force. To do so, we need an appropriate measure of each racial group’s “exposure” to police, so that we could compare the number of citizens fatally shot against the number of citizens who could have been fatally shot.
Thanks to The Post, the numerator (number of citizens fatally shot) in the equation no longer is unknown. But how do we come up with an appropriate denominator (number of citizens who could have been fatally shot)? To be certain, U.S. population estimates are not the answer because they assume everyone has an equal chance of being stopped or contacted by police officers. Studies consistently have demonstrated this is not the case: black citizens are more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested than white citizens.
… Thus, the fact that black males account for 22 percent of fatal shootings, but just 6 percent of the U.S. population, tells us nothing about whether officers exhibit racial bias in their decision to use deadly force. After all, to be shot by a police officer, one must first be approached, contacted or stopped by a police officer (and bear in mind, forming suspicion and making the decision to stop or approach a citizen is entirely separate from the perceived need to shoot).
… If we assumed, conservatively, that there were 40 million police-citizen interactions in 2017, then we would conclude using The Post’s data that police fatally shot a citizen in approximately 0.002 percent of those interactions. Furthermore, the majority of those fatal shootings involved a citizen who was armed with a deadly weapon and/or posing an imminent threat to the safety of officers or others. We raise these points not to dismiss concern about excessive use of force or possible racial disparities, but rather, to put The Post’s tally in the appropriate context.
Clearly Justin Nix — as a simple purview of his Twitter feed supports — is among the more nuanced of researchers on this subject. From the 2017 study using 2015 Washington Post fatal shootings data, there are a few key takeaways:
- 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.”
He also indicates the data isn’t as accurate as it needs to be. I remain confused by this argument, because The Guardian and Washington Post data remains robust enough for several outlets to argue we have a problem with police violence along racial lines. (Even see how The Guardian focuses first on rate by race — with Native Americans sadly and predictably in the top spot — and not sum totals.)
The Post’s data indicate that 990 civilians were shot and killed by police ofﬁcers in the line of duty last year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the police make contact with more than 40 million people each year. Out of these contacts, police force (or threatened force) is used in less than 2% of these interactions (Eith and Durose, 2011).Moreover, most use-of-force incidents do not result in a death even when police ofﬁcers ﬁre their guns (Alpert, 1989; Klinger, 2012b; Klinger et al., 2015). Thus, civilian deaths caused by police ofﬁcers are extremely rare based on the overall number of police–civilian encounters. Additionally, as shown in the current analysis, most civilians killed by police were armed with a deadly weapon or were actively attacking ofﬁcers. Less than 10% (N =93) of civilians shot and killed by police in 2015 were unarmed.
Mainstream media and advocacy groups, most notably Black Lives Matter and Campaign Zero, have alleged that police disproportionately use force and deadly force against minorities. The Post data showed that police killed almost twice as many Whites as Blacks; nevertheless, this is expected as Whites far outnumber Blacks in the U.S. population. In an effort to standardize these numbers, The Guardian divides the number of White and Black civilians killed by their respective population count. Presenting the number in this manner suggests that Blacks were killed at more than twice the rate of Whites in 2015 (7.2 per million to 2.9 per million, respectively). Similarly, The Washington Post recently stated, “When adjusted by population, [unarmed Black men] were seven times as likely as unarmed White men to die from police gunﬁre” (Lowery, 2016). We caution against using population as a benchmark because it does not account for each groups’ representation in a variety of more relevant measures, including police–civilian interactions and crime. The use of self-report data in criminological research has resulted in the ﬁnding that Black citizens offend at higher rates (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, and Visher, 1986; Loeber et al., 2015)and are overrepresented in citizen complaints/calls for service (Engel, Smith, and Cullen, 2012), police stops (Novak, 2004), and arrests (Brame, Bushway, Paternoster, and Turner,2014; Kochel, Wilson, and Mastrofski, 2011). These and related benchmarks can be used to clarify the representation of minority deaths at the hands of police.
(Cont.) … Although we were limited to the 990 police shootings that resulted in death, we were able to analyze the data for evidence of implicit bias. Our ﬁndings showed that citizens in the other racial/ethnic group were signiﬁcantly more likely than Whites to have not been attacking the ofﬁcer(s) or other civilians and that 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. In line with previous police shooting simulation studies (see Correll et al., 2002; Cox et al., 2014; Payne, 2001), it seems that ofﬁcers may have been more likely to experience threat perception failures in fatal shootings that involved minority civilians. That is, ofﬁcers subconsciously perceived minority civilians to have been a greater threat than they were (Fachner and Carter, 2015).
This study is not without limitations. Most importantly, we only had data for the 990 police shooting incidents that resulted in death. It would be ideal to have national data onuse-of-force incidents that did not result in death as well, as prior studies have suggested that civilian death only occurs in 15% to 25% of all police shootings (see, e.g., Klingeret al., 2015). With these data, we could more accurately assess whether deadly force is disproportionately used against Blacks, and we could more accurately determine whether implicit bias occurs in real-world police–civilian interactions. Additionally, we were only able to analyze data for a 1-year period. Future research would beneﬁt from longitudinal datato assess police shooting trends over longer periods. This is especially important considering that 2015 was a period of great turmoil in American policing and might prove to be an outlier over a more extended time frame. Note, however, that Williams et al. (2016) recently suggested that annual totals of fatal police shootings have remained stable over the last 5 years. In any event, given the national debate currently surrounding police shootings, it was imperative to analyze the ﬁrst year of The Post’s data objectively to shed light on any apparent racial disparities. Finally, although we were able to control for the inﬂuence of several relevant variables, we could not account for everything as evidenced by the modest amount of variance explained by our regression models. For example, suspect death can be inﬂuenced by factors such as departmental policy on rendering lifesaving aid or the proximity of level-one trauma centers (Giacopassi, Sparger, and Stein, 1992; Hanke andGundlach, 1995; MacKenzie et al., 2006). Yet without national data on nonfatal police shootings, we cannot determine whether the observed race effects would be washed away by the inclusion of these other variables.
Our analysis has contributed to an understanding of the extent to which civilians were fatally shot and killed by police in the U.S. in 2015, as well as to an understanding of the extent to which race was associated with two measures of threat perception failure: having not been attacking the police or other citizens and having been unarmed prior to being fatally shot. Flawed data have limited the empirical study of police deadly use of force at the national level for far too long. News media outlets have provided us with more accurate data on these incidents than has the research community. Nevertheless,more is needed to provide reliable and generalizable analyses of police-involved shootings. Fortunately, it seems that we are making steps in the right direction, and this study and the data from The Washington Post serve as baseline analyses for future research on civilians killed by police.
NEW JUNE 2018: Oh, is there a eighth study now? Actually, it’s really “seven” as it’s the same researcher, Joseph Cesario, who I mentioned above was running a preliminary analysis on his website. This published paper is called, “Evidence of Racial Disparity in Police Use of Deadly Force? Analyses of Officer-Involved Fatal Shootings in 2015–2016.” What they concluded was the following: “We find little evidence within these data for systematic anti-Black disparity in fatal police deadly force decisions.”
Again, conservative Larry Elder wrote about it, but hardly anyone else noticed. If the findings instead supported the dominant theory that police act upon anti-black biases, would it be on CNN? That would be a solid bet.
SOURCE above: https://www.cesariolab.com/race-bias-in-shooting
SOURCE with key abstract excerpt below: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550618775108
Is there evidence of a Black–White disparity in death by police gunfire in the United States? This is commonly answered by comparing the odds of being fatally shot for Blacks and Whites, with odds benchmarked against each group’s population proportion. However, adjusting for population values has questionable assumptions given the context of deadly force decisions. We benchmark 2 years of fatal shooting data on 16 crime rate estimates. When adjusting for crime, we find no systematic evidence of anti-Black disparities in fatal shootings, fatal shootings of unarmed citizens, or fatal shootings involving misidentification of harmless objects. Multiverse analyses showed only one significant anti-Black disparity of 144 possible tests. Exposure to police given crime rate differences likely accounts for the higher per capita rate of fatal police shootings for Blacks, at least when analyzing all shootings. For unarmed shootings or misidentification shootings, data are too uncertain to be conclusive.
And references to the Nix study are in the “Limitations” part of this study.
Another potential flaw is that our analysis does not capture whether officers set different thresholds for use of deadly force with Black versus White citizens for the same behavior. A Black citizen brandishing a gun may be shot by police, whereas a White citizen may be tased or verbally confronted first. There is some indirect evidence bearing on this possibility. First, Nix, Campbell, Byers, and Alpert (2017) found that among citizens who were not assaulting the police during arrest, Blacks were no more likely to be fatally shot than Whites. Given that non-assault cases are probably the most ambiguous and therefore most likely to be subject to the biasing influence of race on threat perception, this speaks against the threshold argument. Second, we note that cases of immediate threats to the officer or other citizens are the modal case in police shootings. The small number of ambiguous cases make it difficult to draw strong conclusions about race differences. We stress the degree of uncertainty here and note that contradictory evidence does exist (e.g., Nix et al., 2017, report that Blacks were slightly less likely to assault officers than Whites among those fatally shot, though their definition of assault differs from ours).
At the national level, we find little evidence within these data for systematic anti-Black disparity in fatal police deadly force decisions. We do not discount the role race may play in individual police shootings; yet to draw on bias as the sole reason for population-level disparities is unfounded when considering the benchmarks presented here. We hope this research demonstrates the importance of unpacking the underlying assumptions inherent to using benchmarks to test for outcome disparities.
All data and analysis scripts are available from the first author’s website, http://www.cesariolab.com.
Finally, here is one Columbia University study — which I originally discovered in the Wikipedia entry on Race and Crime in the United States (“Robberies with white victims and black offenders were more than 12 times more common than the reverse.”) — that validates the fact blacks commit robbery 8 times more often than whites. It’s called “Racial Stereotypes and Robbery” published more than a decade ago by Brendan O’Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi. This is the key source showing disparities in behavior to contextualize the disparities in police interactions (i.e. evidence against accusations of racial bias by police):
- 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)
- SOURCE: https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac%3A112755
- CITATIONS & REFERENCES:
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
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:
Criminologists talk about the race-crime connection behind closed doors, and often in highly guarded language; the topic is a lightning rod for accusations of racial hostility that can be professionally damaging. They avoid discussing even explicitly racist examples of black-on-white crime such as flash-mob assaults, “polar bear hunting,” and the “knockout game.” What criminologists won’t say in public is that black offending differences have existed since data have been collected and that these differences are behind the racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration.
From a personal standpoint, after reading hundreds and articles and scanning research papers, statistics like those above are almost entirely unsaid in the media by the handpicked academics that show up to represent the field of crime. When professional reputations are at stake, who wants to go against the grain?
Wright and DeLisa do. They then go onto say the following which completely aligns with my own critique of the DOJ, whose ideas mirror those from academia:
In the aftermath of the Department of Justice reports on Ferguson and Baltimore, it may sound odd to hear that the system does a good job of processing individuals with comparable criminal backgrounds similarly, regardless of race. 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. In the case of the DOJ reports, and in the eyes of many criminologists, racism has to be the cause of these disparities because recognizing the truth about the huge racial imbalance in crime is politically intolerable.
“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.
On August 30, 2018, I was searching for “Roland Fryer” in my email inbox (see pic above) and ran across an important Disqus comment I missed. The original Atlantic story was about the shooting death of a black teen named Jordan Edwards by a white police officer that received international headlines (per usual). It’s timely because that officer was convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years on August 29, 2018. This is a rare outcome, with reportedly fewer than 90 officers being charged for murder or manslaughter since 2005, and less than half are convicted or plead to lesser charges. I wrote the following comment in seeking out a response from an anonymous poster called “Machine Lerner” who I realized was an academic, and so I had some obvious questions (his page is no longer found):
I do have a question, and feel free to get in touch from my email here (scan for “gmail”): Why do your colleagues refuse to use statistical evidence if they’re academics who live and breathe by the scientific method? Don’t they use statistical evidence in other areas, let’s say disparities from employers not answering resumes with “black-sounding” names? (This was a study by Harvard scholar Roland Fryer before his controversial “working paper” last year on how there’s no racial bias on shootings.)
My work on analyzing DOJ report on Chicago Police Department and my take on the Ferguson Effect / ACLU Effect:
This was Machine Learner’s reply to me:
Let me put it this way: I don’t know of any social science department where you can conduct honest scientific research on matters that are even tangential to race. Unless you are actively looking for evidence of structural “white” racism, you’re not welcome there. If you happen to be a minority yourself, then you may be able to get away with some real scientific insights on matters related to your race, which explains the anomaly of Roland Fryer.
I like what you are doing, but I’m in academia and would risk ostracism for any honest research like this. I’ve always just assumed the FBI would put out some well-publicized reports to attenuate the war on cops. Why do you think that hasn’t happened? Or maybe it has? I’m wondering if FBI analysts experience the same chilling effect on matters related to race that I experience in academia.
Side note on lack of comments in The Atlantic and elsewhere: Many media outlets in recent years have stopped the comment system. I surmise this is because of being unable to regulate the flow of comments, and there may be liability issues when they do take on that role — which is what my friend reported to me who works for a major Chicago paper. But I think another reason is more apt: It was increasingly overrun with more “viewpoint diversity” with dissenters offering “inconvenient truths” to the biases in the reporting. I found this particularly true around the issue of police misconduct and use of force. For example, The Chicago Tribune’s mountains of articles critical of police and lacking context would receive an onslaught of comments by police supporters and outside-the-dominant-narrative thinkers (like myself) who questioned their inability to report more than one side. Recently the FOP announced their refusal to talk to The Tribune until their “anti-police” coverage changes:
In an unprecedented move, the Executive Board of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 (FOP) voted unanimously Tuesday to cease cooperation with the Chicago Tribune because of a powerful anti-police agenda at the newspaper together with an unwillingness by certain Tribune staff members to objectively report vital criminal justice issues.
Of course, many of these voices are called “trolls.” Some are, certainly, but yelling “TROLL!” is also another way of calling out posts that you don’t agree with, or run counter to the narrative thrust of the article that may be one-sided. It’s also true that there is a “social justice” bias in media with “restricted funding” that can be as much as 50–80% of the underwriting funds that go into journalism, such as what The MacArthur Foundation gave to The Atlantic for their reporting series titled, “Next America: Criminal Justice project.” Simply put: It hurts journalism’s integrity. I wrote about this particular problem with The Atlantic in my article critiquing the documentary “The 13th” under the caption “Bias much? The Atlantic does.” I still enjoy The Atlantic, but this issue makes me question their independence.
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.
Here are two sociologists that do NOT contextualize crime rates when talking about rates of violence by police:
Todd Beer, PhD, a faculty member in the department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lake Forest, IL, a suburb of Chicago. On his website, “SOCIOLOGYtoolbox,” he dives right into Washington Post data disparities without diving into criminal behavior: “Data collected by the Washington Post on the use of lethal force by police officers since 2015 indicate that, relative to the portion of the population, Blacks are over-represented among all those killed by police under all circumstances.” (Emphasis by Dr. Beer.) Many comments on his website ask repeatedly where the criminal context, with this one saying simply: “Flawed. You need to show the crime rate in each category.”
Odis Johnson, PhD, Associate Chair and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Education and Associate Professor of Education and Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. When presenting data to the media in February 2018 on his Fatal Interactions with Police Study regarding odds that Hispanics and blacks are shot both armed and unarmed more than whites, Johnson says, “The odds that black Americans will be killed by police when unarmed are nearly 7 to 1 — more than double the odds found in research to date — and due primarily to the unarmed status of black women.” There’s just one problem with making that claim: There’s only 1–3 unarmed black women killed every year, according to The Washington Post and The Guardian data. So how does Johnson tabulate vast numbers of unarmed black women being killed to make this claim? I had to run the data myself to prove that the still thriving, ACLU-endorsed #SayHerName political movement— which Johnson invokes in his research on race, gender and policing — is fueled by anecdote more than fact. (I hate to say it, but I also surmise cooked or misinterpreted data may be involved — but I don’t know for sure because I can’t see Johnson’s methodology.)
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.
OK, that’s just two sociologists who may, as Wright and DeLisi said, “manipulate data or ignore them altogether.” But how many more like them are there out there?
How about 1,800 sociologists that firmly stand with Black Lives Matter? When one Googles, “sociologist racism in police,” two of the top three top links are below (with excerpts, misspellings and all):
- Police Racism and Violence and #BlackLivesMatter: What You Need to Know about the Problems and Solutions
The Ferguson Syllabus: Research and Social Science Inisghts [sic] on Racist Policing
With The Ferguson Syllabus, sociologists provide socio-historic, economic, and political context for the Black uprising that followed the police killing of Michael Brown. There’s a long and documented history of racist police practices and troubled community relations.
- Sociologists Take Historic Stand on Racism and Police Brutality: Open Letter Addresses National Crises
The “document” Dr. Maghbouleh refers to is an open letter to U.S. society at-large, that was signed by over 1,800 sociologists, this author among them. The letter began by pointing out that what transpired in Ferguson was born of “deeply ingrained racial, political, social and economic inequities,” and then specifically named the conduct of policing, especially in black communities and in the context of protest, as a serious social problem. The authors and signatories implored “law enforcement, policymakers, media and the nation to consider decades of sociological analysis and research that can inform the necessary conversations and solutions required to address the systemic issues that the events in Ferguson have raised.”
The authors pointed out that much sociological research has already established the existence of society-wide problems present in the case of Ferguson, like “a pattern of racialized policing,” historically rooted “institutionalized racism within police departments and the criminal justice system more broadly,” the “hyper-surveillance of black and brown youth,” and the disproportionate targeting of and disrespectful treatment of black men and women by police. These troubling phenomena foster suspicion about people of color, create an environment in which it is impossible for people of color to trust police, which in turn undermines the ability of police to do their job: serve and protect.
Both stories do not contextualize crime rates.
Not a single mention about behavior that may bring police into communities of color.
Forget about hearing how these communities may actually benefit from a strong police presence — or how 9 out of 10 black people want the same level of policing or greater.
No arguments about how (hypothetically) “Police are killing blacks 20% more often than whites per encounter” — because that evidence doesn’t exist. Police shoot all citizens at about the same rate per encounter, if not at a slightly higher rate for whites and Latinos.
Both link to an open letter titled “Statement on Ferguson” — the fourth link in the Google search — co-signed by 1,800 sociologists that also gives zero consideration of whether some groups (blacks, Latinos) commit crimes at a higher rate than other groups (whites, Asians). Criminologists tell me there’s no denying that is a truthful fact, so why don’t we hardly ever hear it from sociologists in the media and on record? Instead, we hear this statement:
Law enforcement’s hyper-surveillance of black and brown youth has created a climate of suspicion of people of color among police departments and within communities. The disrespect and targeting of black men and women by police departments across the nation creates an antagonistic relationship that undermines community trust and inhibits effective policing. Instead of feeling protected by police, many African Americans are intimidated and live in daily fear that their children will face abuse, arrest and death at the hands of police officers who may be acting on implicit biases or institutional policies based on stereotypes and assumptions of black criminality. Similarly, the police tactics used to intimidate protesters exercising their rights to peaceful assembly in Ferguson are rooted in the history of repression of African American protest movements and attitudes about blacks that often drive contemporary police practices.
In conclusion, we stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Los Angeles, New York and throughout the country who demand justice. We encourage our colleagues and fellow citizens to support Black Lives Matter, an on-the-ground non-profit initiative committed to sustaining social action and changing the leadership in Ferguson. Additionally, we urge media to draw on a broad range of experts in their reporting of the events and call on educators to use the upcoming school year to open a space to discuss these issues.
They also added this demand:
Establishment of a ‘Ferguson Fund’ that will support long term strategies grounded in the principles of social justice, systems reform and racial equity to bring about substantial and sustained change in Ferguson and other communities facing similar challenges.
This is especially intriguing — if not ironic— as Michael Browns’ death was ruled completely justifiable in one of the most scrutinized police killings in U.S. history. Brown is hardly the poster boy of innocence killed by racist police, but instead a cautionary tale about how dangerous the job is for police themselves facing violent criminals. Brown was indeed a suspect, with video evidence to prove it, for violently stealing cigarillos and physically assaulting a shop clerk. And officer Darren Wilson confronted him as a suspect, not as some random black teen he felt like arbitrarily harassing. Wilson was acquitted by Eric Holder’s U.S. Justice Department because of the following facts found within the final November 2015 report:
- 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.”
It’s also worth noting Holder once called the U.S. a “nation of cowards” for not facing its racist past. He also called the ambush and near-killing of two Ferguson police officers “heinous and cowardly attacks” shortly before leaving his role as U.S. Attorney General and handing the job off to Loretta Lynch. He said this “punk” tried to “sow discord,” but much of that has already spread, from pockets of academia and government officials to the populace at large.
In fact, a Google search of the words “sociologist racism in police” lead to several academics who in modern terms would be labeled the pejorative “social justice warrior.” One example would be Latin-Australian sociologist Zuleyka Zevallos and her blog The Other Sociologist. She co-signed the “Statement on Ferguson” letter and posted a large image (see left) about the killing of Michael Brown and “militarized” policing and “excessive use of force” surrounding the protests with the hashtag #socforjustice.
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.
First, it’s worth noting there’s no evidence “militarized” policing causes more instances of use of force in black communities. Research that did find greater use of force focused on four predominantly white states: Connecticut, Maine, Nevada and New Hampshire.
A 2014 USA Today opinion piece argued critics of the two-decade build-up of militarized police have it wrong, pointing out public safety has been improved with U.S. homicide rates plummeting by half since 1991 alongside overall rates of violent crime dropping. It was also argued police deaths fell to historic lows and national fatal force incident totals by law enforcement were steady 2005 to 2012, so how can anyone reasonably say our current “storm trooper” police are more dangerous? There are no metrics to make that claim. Even during the hostile Ferguson protests, no citizens were seriously or mortally injured by police despite 321 arrests; in fact, several citizens were shot by fellow citizens during “looting, fire, and gunfire” and months later two Ferguson police officers were shot during March 2015 protests. The USA Today column by conservative Michael Medved also accurately stated what few others in academia or media outlet dare to say: “Less than a quarter of all police uses of deadly force involved white officers firing at black suspects; in fact, a black male is 60 times more likely to die at the hands of another black male than to perish through actions of a white cop.” This is relevant as Black Lives Matter, NAACP, ACLU, National Action Network, Human Rights Watch, and, yes, Sociologists for Justice never bring up the fact black lives are almost 8 times more likely to be taken than white lives by total homicides, but protest incessantly about over the factoid that blacks are 2.8 times more likely than whites by police-involved homicides. How are black lives really mattering with that equation? How is it logical to assume police should kill black people no more often than white people, the benchmark in which the media, politicians, and activists judge them?
Again, looking at the national picture, trends from CDC data clearly show slightly less fatal encounters for black Americans following the 20 years of budget savvy transfers of safety equipment, weaponry, and vehicles from the military to police.
Additionally, the $41.5 million lawsuit against Ferguson police was completely dismissed in 2016 by a federal judge, who says no video evidence backs protesters’ claims of mistreatment in the highly publicized “uprising” where police deployed a massive militarized police response. This proved to be a controversial move to many left-leaning observers across the country, including the ACLU, as wall-to-wall coverage hyped up Humvees and armor-equipped police rolling through Ferguson’s streets. However, there were cameras everywhere during the Ferguson protests and any honest observer could see, as U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey found, police gave “repeated warnings” before arrests started taking place. As someone who personally witnessed past stand-offs with police during WTO in the famed “Battle in Seattle” in 1999 (tasting tear gas and feeling the blast of dispersal grenades), I took the view that police are actually extremely restrained, at one point witnessing a late-night stand-off where tear-gas — finally, after nearly two hours — worked far better than multiple pleas for dispersal. (In my opinion as an on-the-ground observer, there was no real protest at this point, just anti-authority angry mob posturing.)
Even critics deeply involved in police-civilian confrontations, from “The Rise of the Warrior Cop” author Radley Balko to former Seattle police chief Gill Kerlikowske, offer more anecdote than direct empirical evidence as to how militarized police are a greater danger to citizens.
Other research says military equipment doesn’t improve officer safety, but the only downside is mostly one of optics rather than additional state-sponsored violence as stated in one 2018 paper’s title, “Militarization fails to enhance police safety or reduce crime but may harm police reputation.” (One of the first papers on the subject goes back to 2007. Authored by Peter Kraska, a professor at the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky, it spoke in foreboding post-9/11 terms but offered few specifics or data of the negatives of militarized police.) What is true is that when media incessantly plays up heavily equipped police forces “occupying” black communities, it doesn’t “look” good. But it doesn’t mean they’re “doing” bad.
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.
The race and inequality expert, Dr. Cole, strongly endorses the post-Ferguson letter, and she wrote the stories I linked to above. Guess what? She gets key criminology and demographic facts completely and undeniably wrong and puts the blame on racist policing for any disparities. Criminal patterns are, again, absent. And yet she has a PhD and a large media platform in discussing these issues? Of course she does.
See excerpt below from Dr. Cole’s ThoughtCo post titled “5 Facts About Police Killings and Race” for how, ironically, she can’t even present basic facts or math correctly. Her “white people compose about 78% of our national population” benchmark percentage includes Hispanics (non-Hispanic whites are 61% of the population), yet she breaks apart “whites” and “Hispanic/Latinos” for her comparison just one sentence later. This is something any committed sociology researcher — or any critical thinker dealing with demographics for that matter — should understand, yet Cole manages not to give the slightest intellectual effort or else she would easily notice her inconsistencies. The 32% “white people killed by police” is vastly lower than the accurate 50%, a figure found in almost all databases publicly available and does not include Hispanics. If you combine Cole’s 24% (blacks killed)+ 32% (“whites” killed) you get 56%. Is Cole assuming Hispanics, Asians and indigenous populations make up the other sizable 44%? (They’re really almost have that much, around 25%.) This indicates sloppy thinking and poor scholarship. The hashtag #SMH and #OMG are the only responses I can offer Dr. Cole when she states this nonsense:
“While there are more white than black people in this data, the percentage of those who are black far out-paces the percentage of those who are black in the general population — 24 percent versus 13 percent. Meanwhile, white people compose about 78 percent of our national population, but just under 32 percent of those killed. This means that black people are more likely to be killed by police, while white, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and Native American are less likely.
Well, no, even The Guardian clearly shows Native Americans are the ones “most likely” to be killed — and this is even when Cole shares their “per capita” flawed benchmark. Cole continues the popular inclination of ignoring crime rates:
This trend is corroborated by other research. A study conducted by Colorlines and The Chicago Reporter in 2007 found that black people were over-represented among those killed by police in every city investigated, but especially in New York, Las Vegas, and San Diego, where the rate was at least double their share of the local population. This report also found that the number of Latinos killed by police is rising.
Read any of those links above, and you’ll solidly see zero acknowledgment that blacks commit crimes at higher rates than whites. You won’t find that in New York City, blacks are 56.4% of homicide suspects (57.5% of the victims) and 25.1% of the population. In fact, there’s no mention of crime at all. Or victims. This is clearly where political correctness trumps science and academic rigor. The link to the Colorlines source (published by Race Forward, proof there’s heavy interest — and money — in perpetuating “racism”) doesn’t convey any strong evidence, and instead says, “The shootings may be explained in part by implicit bias on the part of police officers, according to research by University of Chicago Assistant Professor Joshua Correll.” This doesn’t translate into that bias killing more blacks or Latinos per encounter, as proven by the “reverse racism” research findings at Washington State University where officers in realistic simulations were three times less likely to kill unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects, even though they registered “greater threat responses” from black people. It’s simply another case of a sociologist using “implicit bias” data to explain disparities, when that’s simply not true when drilling down and dissecting their methodology. If implicit bias did create more harm for minorities, then a higher percentage of blacks would be killed than arrested, rather than the fact it’s the other way around (25% killed vs. 27% arrested). It’s even more clear implicit bias works against white people more often than black people when contextualizing that the latter racial group’s arrests are more likely to be for violent crime.
I’ve yet to see a single sociologist point this out: Murders by citizens outpace police homicides at least 30:1 in the black community and 9:1 in the white and Latino community. I had to run those numbers myself. It was very simple to do.
What would be honest is to say this is the order in which people are killed by police per capita (most likely to least): Native American, black, Latino/Hispanic, white, and Asian. This nearly mirrors of the highest rates of homicide (except blacks far outnumber Native Americans). This is the order of poverty (highest achievement in median income to lowest): Asian, white, Latino/Hispanic, Native American and black (the last two groups are nearly tied). So nothing should really be that surprising in the data unless those orders change.
The data that needs to be analyzed to uncover racism is the following:
- Contact rates by police (stops, arrests)
- Justification for those contacts (crime reports, 911 calls, victim studies)
- Use of force rates (lethal and nonlethal)
If those three categories mostly match up in police stats — such as in Chicago, where they’re all just more than 70% black, give or take a couple percentage points — then you don’t have an issue with racism in your policing. Would it be fair if you’re in a racial or ethnic group that is stopped 20% of the time when you’re only listed as 9% of the suspects in police crime reports? Should women be 50% of all stops? Most rational people would say, “No.”
And I’ve yet to hear a single convincing argument as to why that shouldn’t be the standard for “systemic racism” in policing today — though people often try to say “qualitative” measurements are more important than “quantitative” data that consistently shows force is used against blacks at the same rate as their commission of crime or interaction with police. In fact, if you’re using that definition of systemic racism that focuses on “unjust amount of resources” for whites, then the fact (as I pointed out earlier) that 9 out of 10 blacks want the same number or more police in their communities to protect them is proof that removing those police is racism.
These are contextual facts that I’d argue are most relevant. And I have a Bachelors degree in Sociology (co-major with Journalism).
It’s shocking when you think about it: The most widely read and seen articles on police use of force are all written by “scientists” who are supposed to be studying “society.” Yet they can’t seem to grapple with — or accept — basic logic. They flagrantly and dangerously ignore crime. They often just get simple facts completely wrong.
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.
At the top of the list of criminologists who are fighting an uphill battle against the dominant narrative is David Klinger, PhD, a Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at University of Missouri–St. Louis. Klinger is a former police officer who’s actually shot and killed a man while in uniform. He now does work on how often police shoot citizens and under which circumstances. (He’s also referenced heavily above in the Justin Nix paper.) He clearly put sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson in his place with his police-are-racist broken record pronouncements by countering with facts and reason when he told him on CNN with host Anderson Cooper, “There’s absolutely no empirical evidence from the the field that indicates that police are quicker on the trigger when it’s a black suspect versus a white suspect.” Klinger said on a PBS News Hour interview in June 2017:
“And I would argue that the race issue is one that gets overplayed. And what I mean by that is this. If we look at shootings that could have been prevented, and it goes back the training and tactics, we can pretty much eliminate, in my opinion, the race piece.
So, for example, here in Saint Louis, myself and Rick Rosenfeld and two other colleagues were able to look at the spatial patterns of officer-involved shootings in the city of Saint Louis. And at first, it clearly looks as if race plays a role, but once you control for the levels of crime across neighborhoods, that drops out.
And so that’s one example of why I’m not going to get on to the issue of race being the key. I really think it has to deal with the tactical performance of police officers across the board dealing with whites, blacks, Hispanics, males, females, where they don’t use sound tactics that then lead to the shootings that we scratch our heads over.”
That research paper that Klinger referred to working with criminologist Richard “Rick” Rosenfeld as a co-author is titled, “Race, Crime, and the Micro‐Ecology of Deadly Force.” (Frankly, this would be the eighth study I’ve discovered proving no racial bias in police shootings, and I should list it above. Maybe when we get to 10 studies.) Rosenfeld is one of the first crime researchers I started seeing pop up once in a while in stories around police and violence. He stood out because his perspective was more nuanced and malleable to new data, rather than condemning the “racist” system or police. I will talk more about him below in the section: Research on “The Ferguson Effect.”
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 WBEZ.org 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:
“In an email, a CPD spokesman Martin Maloney pointed out that the demographic breakdown of contact cards issued closely mirrors the data in the department’s case reports. (Those are descriptions of suspects identified by a third party, which is documented within incident reports.)”
(My ACLU and CPD Analysis, March 2015 - present, here as a Google Doc. I also analyze the above “missing” chart in my Medium post providing context to CPD actions after Paul O’Neil’s dramatic shooting death in August 2016. In it, I mention that WBEZ reporter Katie O’Brien said she has “doubts” that the ACLU ran controls for stops, which you can listen to here.)
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.
Hypothesis: Maybe big city police aren’t shooting and killing people as often as many folks think?
Remember: Very few recent discussions around police shootings mention the high number of guns and gun violence in the United States. For example, rates of firearm related deaths in the U.S. are 40 times higher than Great Britain.
And one more thing: White People. Out of 500 shootings of white people annually, there’s many shootings (and arguably excessive beatings) of white bodies on camera few Americans don’t know about. Indignation and national outrage often comes from a critical mass of consciousness, spurred on by media attention all-but-lacking context, even when doing important work like tracking police killings. (Google search “police killing unarmed black men” or “police killings” and see for yourself.) I took the time to compile several killings or attacks on video against white individuals here. I can name 5 unarmed white teens (or younger) killed in recent years: Zachary Hammond, Jeremy Mardis (age 6), Dillon Taylor, Dylan Noble, and Gilbert Collar. Do people know their names?
To keep it focused, I’ll highlight two examples of police violence. Example 1: NPR tries to wrestle with the conundrum of an unarmed teenage citizen shooting of Zachary Hammond that is as clear as any in existence of police wrongdoing, and asks, “A White Teen Was Killed By A Cop And No One Took To The Streets. Is That A Problem?” Example 2: “Black cops tackles white guy!” gets 900 views on YouTube. But what’s interesting is the excerpt of a white drunk man not obeying commands getting a full stiff-arm neck tackle comes directly from the TV show COPS (500,000 views). The move was likely legal, although it looks brutal and excessive. But reverse the optics, and there’s little doubt it would be a social media viral sensation with accusations of racism.
I am clear: Many more police need to be convicted or held accountable, but how can one say it’s racial injustice when far less than 1% of ALL police-involved shootings lead to a conviction and 50% of the dead are white? Where’s their justice?
I often say: If black lives don’t matter, why is it Americans know only the names of black individuals killed these past four years? Who knows the name of any of the of the 750 out of 1000 people killed by cops annually who aren’t black, as well as two-thirds of the 5–10% unarmed deaths by law enforcement?
Where is: Perspective?
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.
Ah, but police are arresting blacks more overall because of the racist War on Drugs, right? Actually, no. While there are disparities in drug arrests, and even sentencing, it may not be true when factoring all crime behavior. Drug inmates only make up 20.5% of the total in federal and state prisons. Nearly half are there for violent crimes — 54% of state prisoners are serving time for violence, according to the DOJ. Drug arrests make up less than 14% of total arrests. In fact, that 14% is the exact proportion of overall arrests for both blacks and whites — a statistical coincidence — while blacks are arrested for violence vastly more than whites. Even an op-ed in the New York Times admits that it’s not the War on Drugs driving incarceration rates, but the aggressive punishment of violence as argued in the book Locked In by John F. Pfaff, Professor of Law at Fordham Law School.
Still, anti-incarceration advocacy groups like to put “violence” in quotations when tabulating who’s in prison, and overplay the “nonviolent” residents by including local jails where short-term stays for drug offenses are more prevalent. I often say a variation of the following, but one should consider this framing seriously in regards to the intellectual dishonesty that’s out there, widely heralded, and swallowed up by the masses:
I read all 18,000 words of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ damning anti-incarceration article in The Atlantic titled, “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” Interestingly, he took 17,000 words to get to this very important peer-reviewed researched fact that undermined many of his key points: “One 2004 study found that the proportion of “unambiguously low-level drug offenders” could be less than 6% in state prisons and less than 2% in federal ones.”
Thankfully, there are critics of color willing to speak up against Coates and his ilk, such as Cedric Johnson (University of Illinois at Chicago), John McWhorter (Columbia University) and Glenn Loury (Brown University). They also recognize clearly that crime is a pressing problem that severely affects African American communities, and activist groups such as Black Lives Matter may cause more harm than good. This is one reason why McWhorter and Loury will Tweet and have Bloggingheads.tv discussions on YouTube about established figureheads like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Cornell West when they intellectually battle. Heck, McWhorter even debates about his own book on Bloggingheads.tv with Coates, himself — though, they start out friendly enough, with Coates making small talk about his son acting up in school “like his dad.”
Also, one discovers when digging deeper: Black communities may not be as over-policed as the common narrative is framed. Several studies below embolden that opinion.
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.
First off, no one making these arguments ever talks about the “destroyed lives” of victims of crime. That has to be factored in.
Even though Bill Clinton took pains to renounce the sentencing laws in the bill in 2015, he regularly took heat on the campaign trail as he tried to help his wife, Hillary Clinton, win the 2016 presidential election. Black Lives Matter publicly embarrassed Bernie Sanders months earlier in Seattle, so it was only a matter of time before they regularly went after the Clintons. At one point in early April 2016, former President Clinton received massive blow-back from a heckler in Philadelphia, where he in turn — much to the consternation, certainly, of his wive’s campaign that was trying fruitlessly to inspire the “black vote” — doubled-down on his legislative achievement. “You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter,” Clinton told the protesters who had interrupted his speech. “Tell the truth.”
That “truth” of Bill Clinton's got called out by Rollingstone as problematic: “For once we got to see a white person who’s done real harm to our community say what he truly believes.” They were far from the only mainstream media outlet to paint the Clintons as harbingers of racial injustice, with Hillary’s using “racially coded rhetoric” when calling out black youths — infamously — as “superpredators” in 1994 in supposed cynical ways. Some could just say she was being honest — and fair in comparing the crime problem to ones endemic in Italian communities generations earlier. With murder rates spiking to all-time highs bolstered by the rise in crack use and gangs spreading their misery throughout American inner cities, few remember that there was uniform support for adding more police and being tough on crime. This wasn’t just conservative ideology run amok. A majority of black congressional leaders signed the Clinton-backed Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and Democratic-led congress passed it — with a consensus 95–4 vote in the U.S. Senate. Soon after, crime rates fell.
But all that was forgotten in the heated — and fateful for Democrats — identity politics election of 2016.
Both Sanders and Hillary Clinton completely capitulated to the activists’ points of view, with Clinton literally giving a platform to eight black mothers at the Democratic Convention, symbolically representing the 25% of people killed in police custody. The other 75% were not symbolically represented, nor were law enforcement. Hillary Clinton added fuel to that fire during the primaries against Sanders saying it’s “reality” that police view black lives as “cheap.” Donald Trump praised cops, and law enforcement popularity surged in October 2016 with a Pew Poll showing 74% of Americans having a “great deal of respect for police.” Around the same time, Black Lives Matter had majority of Americans (57%) holding a negative view of them. Basically, police were more popular than Black Lives Matter by the end of 2016. Perhaps that’s partially why Clinton lost the election to Trump.
Prominent talk radio conservative Larry Elder has pointed out in an article “5 Myths of the Criminal Justice System” The following (all of which I fact-checked as 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.]
The Atlantic analyzed this issue in an piece, “The Real, Complex Connection Between Single-Parent Families and Crime.” They wrote that 25% of crime was reduced from the 1994 Crime Bill, and said the following:
Some academics and advocates, including Cohen here, counter that mass incarceration is actually creating more single-parent families. That argument rests on the questionable assumption that men who are in prison would become reliable presences in their children’s lives if freed. Worse, it implies that children — or their mothers — would be better off with a violent father in the house than on their own. There are valid concerns about our harsh drug policies, but the truth is the percentage of prisoners behind bars for drugs is relatively modest. According to the BJS, about 20 percent of the current state prison population has been convicted of drug offenses while 50 percent are doing time for violent crimes. (Federal percentages, though not the number of actual prisoners, are higher.) Violent offenders accounted for 60 percent of the rise in the state prison population between 2000 and 2008, a time when the percentage of drug offenders declined.
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:
“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. In addition, other factors including low parental socioeconomic status (which is associated with ethnicity), previous police contact, and gender are more likely, than even involvement in crime, to determine if a person will be questioned or arrested.”
SOURCE (“Revisiting ‘Measuring the Problem’: Separate Examination of Police Contact in Serious and Nonserious Offenders,” Criminal Justice Review, 2016): http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0734016816648188
“Although blacks are arrested disproportionately for most types of violent crimes, disagreement persists as to the extent to which official arrest data are indicative of differential offending behavior or selection bias on the part of law enforcement personnel. Using data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), we assess the effect of an offenders race on the probability of arrest for 335,619 incidents of forcible rape, robbery, and assault in 17 states during 1999. The baseline model for these comparisons is the equiprobability hypothesis that relative to violation frequency as reported by crime victims, the likelihood of arrest for white and black offenders is roughly equal.”
“Multivariate logistic regression results show that the odds of arrest for white offenders is approximately 22% higher for robbery, 13% higher for aggravated assault, and 9% higher for simple assault than they are for black offenders. These findings suggest that the disproportionately high arrest rate for black citizens is most likely attributable to differential involvement in reported crime rather than to racially biased law enforcement practices.”
SOURCE (“Race and the Probability of Arrest,” Social Forces, Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2003): http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/81/4/1381
“Interestingly, none of the characteristics of the suspect was important. In other words, officers were equally likely to stop individuals whether they were male or female, African-American or white, low or high socioeconomic status … A recent area of research, that of racial profiling, has begun to examine whether or not police officers use race to discriminate against minorities. Research on racial profiling is attempting to capture officers’ pre-conceived notions and practices of discrimination by race. To date, the research that has been conducted cannot confirm or refute whether officers discriminate against members of racial minority groups. This shortcoming can be attributed to methodological weaknesses, including the lack of a proper denominator to determine if traffic stops or searches of minorities are significantly different from stops and searches of white citizens.”
SOURCE (“Police Officers’ Decision Making and Discretion: Forming Suspicion and Making a Stop,” NCJRS, U.S. Department of Justice, 2004): https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/213004.pdf
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): http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2330443X.2015.1129918
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.”
Larry Elder wrote in 2012: “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.”
The likely source of the above claims is literally titled “No Racism in the Justice System”:
“Annotation: The criminal justice system has clearly been biased against blacks in the past, but recent evidence on such bias is far less conclusive.
Abstract: The Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted a 1-year survey in which samples of adult felony defendants were tracked as their individual cases proceeded across major criminal justice stages. The survey was based on a sample of 10,226 defendants representing 42,538 defendants in the Nation’s 75 largest counties. Survey findings revealed blacks were convicted of more serious offenses than whites, had longer criminal records, and were convicted in places that generally meted out more prison sentences. These differences explained why 51 percent of convicted blacks but only 38 percent of convicted whites were sent to prison. The survey provided no evidence that, in places where blacks had most of their contacts with the criminal justice system, the system treated them more harshly than whites.”
SOURCE (“No Racism in the Justice System,” The Public Interest, 1994): https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=174599
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.”
SOURCE (Bureau of Justice Statistics: Federal Sentencing Disparity, 2005–2012): https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fsd0512_sum.pdf
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 the Wikipedia page titled “Race and crime in the United States.” The study states clearly in the first paragraph: “Across the distribution, blacks receive sentences that are almost 10% longer than those of comparable whites arrested for the same crimes. Most of this disparity can be explained by prosecutors’ initial charging decisions, particularly the filing of charges carrying mandatory minimum sentences.”
SOURCE (University of Michigan Law School: Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Sentences, 2014): http://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2413&context=articles
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.
A November 2017 headline in The Washington Post claimed “Black men sentenced to more time for committing the exact same crime as a white person, study finds.” But a simple analysis I executed in their comment section on the source research methodologies of the U.S. Sentencing Commission Report highlighting the “Limitations of Regression Analysis” shows The Post presents a hyperbolic headline, with the 20% black-white difference not factoring key mitigating circumstances: “The Commission noted some potentially relevant factors were not included in its analyses, such as whether the offender’s criminal history included violent criminal conduct, the offender’s family ties, and the offender’s employment history.” These are things judges and juries would review and consider. The study stated this clearly, but it was omitted from the article:
“Because multivariate regression analysis cannot control for all of the factors that judges may consider, the results of the analyses presented in this report should be interpreted with caution and should not be taken to suggest discrimination on the part of judges. Multivariate analysis cannot explain why the observed differences in sentencing outcomes exist, but only that they do exist.” Media has a history of seeing “differences” and saying “racism.”
In other major media fumbles, so-called news organizations like The Root, like to publish wholly inaccurate facts: “A 2014 study (pdf) by the American Civil Liberties Union found that, at the federal level, African Americans and Latinos receive sentences that are 20 times longer than whites.” Click the PDF link and it actually says 20% longer, and that’s with ACLU spinning the data. For the statistically literate, 20 times longer vs. 20% longer are a bit different, well, by almost a factor of 20. But with the way many Tweeted and wrote about Turner — it was one of the biggest incarceration stories I’ve witnessed on social media — it sure felt like he received a sentence 20 times smaller than a person of color.
Yes, one could argue Stanford swimmer Brock Turner got an outrageously low felony sentence of six months for rape (he served three). Sajid A. Khan, a deputy public defender in Santa Clara County and experienced in these cases, argued that Turner “didn’t get off easy.”
Single case examples of sentences that don’t seem fair are just that: Single cases. Statistically, someone else who’s black is getting a seven-month or eight-month sentence. Because that’s the aggregate average — 10-20% longer — based on the stats promoted by liberal advocates. Then again, as noted above, there are studies that say, “The survey provided no evidence that, in places where blacks had most of their contacts with the criminal justice system, the system treated them more harshly than whites.” So possibly in many cases there’s a 0% difference.
2016 Arrests in Chicago are Less than Nationwide Average (In Journalism, this is Called Burying the Lead)
Here’s what I concluded statistically, but have never read anywhere: Chicago’s reputation for over-arresting is vastly overrated. At least that’s true in the past few years. Activists still call Chicago “the most-policed city in the country.”
Chicago had in 2009 a little less than twice the rate of arrests as the rest of the nation, with 1.5% of the country’s total arrests and .86% of the country’s population (dividing 2009 CPD arrest data with 2012 FBI arrest data, or simply 181,669 ÷ 1,219,6959). Today, arrests are dropping precipitously in Chicago and their share is possibly LESS than the national average (take 2015 CPD arrest data and calculate a 28% to 33% arrest drop in 2016 and apply against 2015 FBI arrest data). Chicago’s share of the U.S. population is .86% but I calculate total arrests by the municipal police were .76% last year. Unless federal, state and county arrests are greater than 10–15%, roughly, of the city’s arrests and part of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting, then this could be a unique development in criminal justice. This is occurring even though murder is 4-6 times higher than the national rate, robbery is 3 times higher, and Chicago’s violent crime (rape, murder, assault) is increasing 4 times faster than the national average.
All data crunching here (feel free to comment):
But don’t say this has anything to do with the the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Well, that’s what the ACLU usually says — without rebuttal. It happened recently in a relatively balanced DNA Info article in January 2017 that reported a policy change to keep officer’s personal information away from the ACLU:
Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois, said the civil liberties watchdog did not oppose the change and wasn’t interested in the actions of specific officers.
“We want to fix the systemic issues,” Yohnka said. “This wasn’t worth fighting.”
Yohnka contends there is no connection between the rising murder rate and the drop in the number of investigatory stops by police. He said 250,000 stops conducted by police in 2014 found no criminal activity.
“All those stops did was drive a wedge between the police and the community,” Yohnka said.
Despite the 80 percent drop in the number of police stops, Chicago police took 25 percent more guns off the street in 2016 than the previous year, Yohnka said.
I’ve yet to see it reported exactly how police stopped 80% less people, made less felony gun arrests, yet took 25% more guns off the streets.
Another anomaly: That 2017 Sun Times article indicating a 28% drop in arrests also contained arrest totals that are roughly 50% off from official totals found in the CPD arrest data I found elsewhere (see Sun Times graphic above). It did not include links to source data. Alas, it did include activists repeating mantras without fact-based counterarguments:
“Chicago is the most-policed city in the country. Maybe it’s time to do something different.”
To all the groups above, some I’ve even contributed financially to in the past such as the ACLU, all I can do is repeat my findings:
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
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?
Starting January 1, 2016, all that changed when a new ACLU-negotiated reform on investigative stops started in Chicago. I hate to put it so bluntly, but take your pick: 6 times less of all citizens stopped, which disproportionately falls on the shoulders of blacks, yet matches their share of the crime rate. OR nearly 300 more homicides and 1,300 more people shot, which also disproportionately affects blacks and actually happened in 2016.
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.”
Remarkably, when vast reductions of stops occur in both Chicago and New York City, the racial demographic percentages don’t change! With the ACLU and a retired federal judge monitoring them, Chicago cops still stop 8 times more blacks than whites in 2016, the same as previous years, which I’ll explore in more detail in the next section. Just like in New York City (NYC) when stop-and-frisk (Terry stops) ended after a court ruling and demographic percentages were calculated by the ACLU from 2003 to 2017, there’s essentially no change in the percentage of white, Latino or black stops. The disparities remain — and are still complained about by civil rights organizations. How does this make sense?
In NYC in data captured by the ACLU, whites were 12% of stops in 2003 at the beginning of stop-and-frisk and they were 10% in 2016 when it was all but over. In 2011 they reached a low of 9% white at the height of stop-and-frisk. Again, hardly any change. Remarkably, there were 55 times more stops (5500% higher) of all races in 2011 than 2016! (A class action lawsuit called Floyd v. City of New York ended the practice in 2013, and a slowdown occurred before then.)
But what’s most important, and rarely reported, is that crime suspects nearly match the demographics of police stops in NYC. Let’s look at police stop data (not all of these involve “frisks”) and victim report data to see:
- 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)
SEPT 1, 2019 UPDATE: I’m now noting how the ACLU left off “Asian/Pacific Islander” stop percentages. It’s possible because that would show their share of stops is many times smaller their their share of the population, and would ruin their narrative. [At this point, I run the ACLU data from this page on my own spreadsheet here.] CONCLUSIONS: Indeed, it does. OMG. The entire angle that stops are driven by racially biased police is completely thrown on its head, and it’s arguable that the ACLU and media are complicit in purposely ignoring Asian data that is inconvenient to that narrative. Despite Asians being 14% of the New York City population and 4% of the suspects, they are only 1.9% of all stops (2%), which is 7 times less (!!!) than their share of the population! Whites are 33% of the New York City population and 16% of suspects, yet are 9.7% of all stops (10%) which is 3 times less than their share of the population. This is inverse of the Harvard lawsuit and ongoing complaints of discrimination by Asians in higher education and the often obfuscating “model minority” theory thrown out by sociologists. Yes, Asians as a group behave better socially and academically, and their treatment by police and society reflects it, both by lower rates of stops and higher average income! Again, the data shows New York City policing is largely reflective of behavior and by patrolling high crime areas. The fact that the ACLU and almost any media organization with a link to their page can see the Asian data, but chose to ignore it, is mystifying — until you start to understand the intersectional logic under-girding their efforts.
Another way of listing the 2016 data is to say, “47.6% of suspects are black, and 52% of stops are black.” A sensible analysis, which The New York Times constantly struggles to do, would clarify that those two percentages should be closely aligned for fair treatment of all racial groups. For example, ACLU logic would dictate that Asians in NYC should be around 13-14% of stops, their share of the population, even though they’re 4% of suspects. But how would that even be remotely fair to Asian communities who are disproportionately NOT breaking the law?
Thus, a huge question remains: How can you “unfairly target minorities” (excluding Asians) when the racial breakdown both remains the same no matter the year and nearly matches crime suspect demographics in both 2011 and 2016?
Also, this statistical change is perhaps the most relevant and one of the more extreme changes: 30.3% of Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief victims were white in 2011 compared to 23% of victims being white in 2016. The white Misdemeanor Criminal Suspect percentage was unchanged, remaining around 16% — which makes sense, as research backs that whites are more often victims of robberies and other crimes by other races than vice versa. This indicates minorities are getting an increase in their share of crime victimizations, going from 70% to 77% of the total, meaning they’re disproportionately less safe than in 2011. But because media and the ACLU aren’t paying attention to victimization data, let alone suspect and arrest data, this reality will be left in the waste-bin of statistical history. (Additionally, the white percentage of arrests dropped from 24.4% of arrests in 2011 to 18.1% of arrests in 2016, which I’ve yet to see one media report pick up on or academic attempt to analyze.)
Sure, New York gets a drop of 12 percentage points of “innocent” stops, going from 88% to 76%. But let’s be honest: 88% compared to 76% is not that different; you would expect ACLU hoped for a reduction down to, perhaps, 25% “innocent” stops, and remained “silent” (as is their right) when those data points barely shifted. Also, one must consider the ramifications: In bulk numbers cops caught 82,000 “non-innocent” people (i.e. criminals) in stops in 2011 and only 3,000 “non-innocent” people in stops in 2016, all because of changes the ACLU litigated for and political leaders agreed to. The media was definitely silent on this point.
Frankly, it’s hard what to make of these numbers, and harder still to see how the ACLU is bragging about them as a success story. It’s also shocking that crime hasn’t skyrocketed in NYC. Many left-leaning think tanks and critics of criminal justice, like the Brennan Center for Justice, repeatedly mention the fact that crime in the Big Apple hasn’t increased after stop-and-frisk ended as a police policy. They also put on their argumentation blinders to talk about that single correlation vector regarding one city, New York City, whose murder rate is already lower than the national average, and for a short while, even London. I hear this line regularly, “But in New York City after stop-and frisk ended there was no increase in crime, blah-blah-blah …” I acknowledge this. But in return I hear either crickets or arrogant defiance when it comes to violent crime increases in Baltimore, St. Louis, Milwaukee, or Chicago after de-policing has taken place. (Every time I bring it up, I never get a reasonable answer, if I even get a response at all.) Frankly, New York City is an anomaly. Perhaps, instead, a hypothesis can be put forward that if a major metropolis has violent crime rates that drop below the nation’s average then crime won’t suddenly spike when police withdraw or ACLU polices are implemented.
Or perhaps it will take a few years.
Or perhaps the current data is bullshit.
But the zero change in demographic percentages before and after stop-and-frisk is a mystery. One should expect the white percentage to go higher, and black and Hispanic percentages to go lower. This is a serious quandary and point I’ve yet to see analyzed by academics or the media, and I’ve only discovered on my own far into my own investigation of so-called “racist” stop-and-frisk practices.
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)
Next, let’s assume as that vasts amounts of this high 685,724 number are for discretionary, arbitrary stops due to “racial profiling” in a city that’s 33% white, 26% black, 26% Hispanic/Latino, and 13% Asian. Thus, you would assume 350,743 blacks stopped and 223,740 Latinos stopped have a larger portion than whites who are “innocent.” What happens when those stops drop 55 times and are reduced across the board? As you can see below, the percentages are nearly the exact same 5 years later (except for the “innocent” category, which drops just a smidgen from 88% to 76%):
- 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]
One should expect the white percentage should increase — maybe going up to 20%, or even to 33% and match their percentage of city residents, as that appears to be what the ACLU desires. Why? Because stops for whites are arguably less arbitrary when “racial profiling” is taking place, but definitely are for blacks and Hispanics. Now with only 12,000 stops total, supposedly the fat has been trimmed of “bad” or “civil rights-violating” stops. But this didn’t happen. There was practically no change in the demographic percentages.
Thus, this adds to the argument that there was negligible “racial profiling” to begin with. Indeed, these facts let the air out of the “racism” balloon that social justice advocates have been blowing up for years. You get a great many less arrests, for sure. You get dramatically less stops — less people of all backgrounds are stopped. But key for the “stop-and-frisk is not racist” argument is straightforward:
- 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.)
Also according to the ACLU stop-and-frisk data received from the NYPD, 88% of persons stopped were “innocent” in 2011, and 76% were “innocent” in 2016. The ACLU would argue this shows police are slightly more “effective” in their stops. It’s a weak argument. On the face of it, anyone could tell you 88% isn’t much different than 76% — this is the ultimate example of “the emperor has no clothes” in media.
So consider this: You also get 79,000 less “non-innocent” people off the streets in this “stop-and-frisk” pool over a five-year period. The math for this is simple enough, as there were 82,000 “non-innocent” (criminal) people caught by cops in stops in 2011 and only 3,000 “non-innocents” (criminals) in 2016. That’s theoretically 27 times more criminals on the streets in the category of “arrests/non-arrests by police-motivated stops” — from low-level drug offenders to people with felonies carrying weapons or otherwise doing harm to New York’s five boroughs. That’s the trade-off from having 55 times less people stopped, or at least it looks like that on paper. However, in American cities other than contemporary New York City, a metropolis that is radically different in terms of crime than in the dangerous 1970s and 1980s and with current murder rate that is lower than the national average, you may get much more deadly results. Also note that 911 calls lead to many times more arrests than those arbitrarily initiated by police, which is obvious on the surface as total arrests in NYC haven’t been reduced 5500%, but merely dipped. They’re also continuously disproportionate by race compared to NYC demographics. Are all those victims reporting disproportionate black and brown suspects also racially biased?
This happened in Chicago, for instance, when stops went down 80% and murders went up 60%. Indeed, in 2016 there were about 300 additional murders and 1,300 shooting victims than the year before. The killing spike was unprecedented the year so-called “stop-and-frisk” was scaled back.
Why Isn’t The New York Times Researching ‘Fishy’ and Unbelievable Reductions in Stops that are 55 Times Less than a Few Years Earlier?
Additionally, nowhere was there a benchmark set by the ACLU (or by NYCLU in New York City) or government officials of what percentage of “innocent” was deemed acceptable. Nor was it stated what the best ratio of black, white and Latino stops should be, which I’m not sure the ACLU never actually declared as a goal, though they insinuate they would like stops to match city demographics. The reduction was seen as a success to some. “There’s been much to celebrate,” reported City Lab in a 2017 story, but they also stated as a lament, “While the monitor recorded an overall drop in the number of stops, African Americans and Latinos are still getting stopped at much higher rates than whites.” They did not lament about any Asian data. Indeed, City Lab wrote that it was “bittersweet” that the total sum of blacks and Latinos stopped is the same as whites before the court ruling by “liberal activist” Judge Scheindlin that effectively ended stop-and-frisk.
One could also argue the goal posts moved, or were made invisible, because no one was writing news headlines in 2017 like, “About 75 Percent of New Yorkers Stopped and Frisked Were ‘Innocent,’ Says NYCLU.” The original 2013 ABC News headline stated, “About 90 Percent of New Yorkers Stopped and Frisked Were ‘Innocent,’ Says NYCLU.” My point is there’s not much difference between 75% and 90%. The former percentage (75%) is essentially a small reduction for “innocent” stops in just four years, along with a gargantuan, unbelievable 5500% overall reduction in police stops. The latter (90%) is worthy of press releases and major media headlines.
Here’s what I think: The police pulled back a great deal, but are they really stopping and interacting with 5500% less New Yorkers than just a few years ago? I don’t think so. I think an activist judge’s decision and top-down pressure from Mayor Bloomberg’s replacement Mayor de Blasio is forcing them to not write down and document all the “stop data.” How else could they have 37,568 “Dangerous Drugs Misdemeanor” arrests and 14,674 “Dangerous Drugs Felony” arrests in 2016 (dramatically down from 80,462 drug offenses in 2011), the same year they had 12,404 stops? It doesn’t make sense. I’m fairly sure all arrests didn’t go down 55 times since 2011, or even cut in half (two times less). Predictably, I’ve yet to hear the ACLU, The New York Times, or anyone else call “bullshit” on this seemingly “fishy” stop data. Why mess up a “success” story of effective socially conscious journalism and advocacy?
But some people will keep saying: The data doesn’t explain everything, and the data isn’t always correct. Then why does the ACLU and others insist on using the same data — or half of it — to make their arguments? You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
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.
But whenever people bring up crime spikes after de-policing, they always say, “But in New York City, the crime didn’t go up…” That’s called a straw-man argument.
So let’s pay attention to the the political argument and ignore the fact that Baltimore had their all-time highest murder rate —72% increase in shootings leading to 55 homicides per 100,000 residents — the year of Freddie Gray’s death. Few progressives were willing to acknowledge the connection between social upheaval after Baltimore’s May protests, leading to increases in criminal activity and shifting expectations for police to abstain from proactive practices. Fewer still noticed the reason why even Gray’s captors were not prosecuted, as respected African American Judge Barry Williams stated prosecutors failed to make a legal case: “Williams has agreed with defense arguments that a crowd that formed around the arrest scene gave officers reasonable cause to use their discretion not to adhere to the department’s police general orders on using seat belts.” Blame for Gray’s death can go all around, it appears, including at the feet of people that don’t allow police to do their proper job of restraining suspects. 133 additional people died (out of 344 total) at the hands of citizens in Baltimore, too, which police had little or nothing to do with in 2015. An average of 6 people were killed per year in Baltimore by police from 2010–2014.
Compared to Baltimore’s average, the ratio of citizen homicides compared to police homicides went from 35:1 to 60:1 in a single year. With the national average 15:1, are the police the problem?
The ACLU finesses statistics and makes ridiculous hyperbolic statements like “250,000 people were stopped but never charged,” to which one could respond, “Duh, that’s like saying tens of millions of Americans are pulled over and never ticketed.” They also are defensively doubling down by saying, “We reject any suggestion of a so-called ‘ACLU effect’ to explain the recent spike in gun violence on Chicago’s streets. There is no discernible link between the rate of invasive street stops and searches by police and the level of violence.”
Do they know that? Or is their ideological and financial investment forcing them to say that?
Yet, the corollaries are all-too-obvious: FiveThirtyEight reported Chicago data early last year which they said “suggests a decline in law enforcement activity that may be contributing to the rise in gun crime.” This started the first week after the new ACLU rules went into effect, and a month after the Laquan McDonald video hit global news outlets.
Politicians, academics, and media, following the ACLU lead, chose to stubbornly deny a connection. They instead say it “could take years to understand the recent crime spikes.” Anonymous cops, a war-on-cops author and crime expert, the FBI Director, and even an arguably “racist” presidential candidate who “knows a Chicago cop” thought otherwise. Perhaps they’re ideologically invested, too. Or, like me, they’re noticing around 1500 more dead people in consecutive years — 70% of those homicides are racial minorities — is an emergency that can’t wait.
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.”
The next year, that police chief would deal with a 69% increase in homicides in 2015, 160 total, the highest number of homicides since 1993. Flynn told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that came from an “emboldened” criminal element after Ferguson. Flynn suggested officers didn’t back down, but there was more reckless behavior on the streets, such as people interfering with arrests. Flynn said the following, reflecting his officers’ viewpoints on the street: “The difference they’ve seen post-Ferguson disturbances is an emboldening of the same group of people that already are shooting each other.”
These anecdotes of “emboldened” crime — while being downplayed in activist circles — were repeated by police officials and crime experts in St. Louis, Baltimore, and Chicago, too. One thing is true: The officials in criminal justice have the numbers (dead bodies, in the hundreds) and timing (spikes coming after high profile incidents) for their logic-based argument. The other side has single-incident emotion with no scientific evidence shootings of blacks are getting worse or disproportionate to their behavior.
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.
Some, like Sean Kennedy wrote for Real Clear Policy, honestly counter the narrative and overt blind spots of criminal justice reform advocates, pointing out simple facts like the violent crime rate increasing 5 times over from the 1960s to the 1990s. Somehow, the ACLU thinks they can lower the jail population by 50%. And the Brennan Center for Justice imagines 39% could be dropped immediately in a December 2016 report. A dramatic 17% reduction in California’s state prison population has reportedly led to little or no crime spike, according to some academic advocates for criminal clemency, though conservative legislatures certainly push back on that point.
Personally, I think there’s a more nuanced and practical path towards smart reform. For example, lessening certain sentences and finding creative ways to lower the recidivism rate after people serve their sentence.
Feel free to get in touch if you think they can be reprinted, edited, co-opted, or republished elsewhere. Email David Shuey at: organica.design(at)gmail.com
How Roland Fryer’s Controversial Harvard Study on Racial Bias by Police Actually Shows Negligible Bias (or Brutality)
EXCERPT (with graphic to the left): According to Fryer’s data during Giuliani-Bloomberg’s New York City, suspects are “pushed to the ground” once out of every 73 stops if black (1.3% of the time) or 1 in 87 times if white (1.1%). And the Center for Policing Equity’s definition of “use of force” by police says it happens 3.6% of the time for white people and 4.6% of the time for black people per arrest.
That’s the “next step.” That’s reality. It’s tangible and something an average reader can visualize. Why isn’t that done by media or academia?
READ MORE HERE.
FiveThirtyEight & Libertarian Reason.com — 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)
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.
I’ll get to that in a minute, but keep that in the back of your mind. Because that’s exactly what happened in 2016.
Nationally in 2016, as many as 2,400 police were on the receiving end of firearm assaults, as 4.2% of 57,180 assaults on law enforcement officers involved guns. This is according to an FBI report released October 16, 2017 (“FBI Releases 2016 Statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted in the Line of Duty”):
“ According to statistics collected by the FBI, 118 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2016. Of these, 66 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts, and 52 officers died in accidents. In addition, 57,180 officers were victims of line-of-duty assaults.”
“In 2016, of the 57,180 officers assaulted while performing their duties, 28.9 percent were injured. The largest percentage of victim officers (32.2 percent) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls. Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 78.0 percent of the incidents, firearms in 4.2 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.9 percent of the incidents. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 16.0 percent of assaults.”
Chicago police last year were on the receiving end of twice as much civilian gunfire than in 2015, according to a January 2017 Chicago Public Radio report. But police shot the same number of people in back-to-back years. For example, after two police were shot in 2017 in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, The Sun Times reported that 12 officers were shot at and nine were struck in the first four months of 2016.
It’s important to keep those threats towards police in mind when pointing out that Chicago police shot around 25 citizens in both 2015 and 2016, killing two more in 2016 (11 killed, 16 wounded), yet they interacted with vastly fewer people. This paradox (police stopped less people, while being shot at more) may be a part of what many have called the “ACLU Effect.” Synonymous with the “Ferguson Effect,” this is essentially police pulling back — not making proactive stops; answering 911 calls only; avoiding using force, even if justified — not only for fear of losing one’s job, but also because of new ACLU-enforced policies like filling out a cumbersome form for every citizen stop. This change in police behavior likely leads to more crime.
The ACLU forcefully denies its existence. I think they’re blind to the facts around them, and continue to say Chicago police acted unconstitutionally in recent years, which I wouldn’t deny occasionally happens. It’s likely rare. Especially after I proved that the available data shows police in Chicago arrest both white and black citizens using force at nearly the same rates — 3.3% and 4.0% of the time, respectively — and LESS than the national average. This indicates there is no systemic problem. Also, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, the probability of being shot fatally in Chicago by police the past 28 months is the exact same odds as the nationwide average, about 1 in 300,000.
One could argue police should be commended for NOT using lethal and non-lethal force in the city of Chicago if you look at the data and compare it nationally.
Also, one can’t argue with any ounce of coherence that Chicago police are rounding up far too many black males when 7 out of 10 stops are black, 7 out of 10 arrests are black, and — most importantly — 7 out of 10 suspects (as determined by crime reports) are also black. And yes, 7 out of 10 instances of use of force are directed at black Chicagoans. If 5 out of 10 suspects were black, then you would have a definitive racism problem in policing.
It’s also a logical argument that police know instinctively what the actual data tells us — the data I report here and not found anywhere in DOJ or ACLU reports — which is members of the CPD weren’t using too much force and acting upon implicit racial bias. Instead, they were being bludgeoned by the media, politicians, and community leaders for treating residents poorly and unfairly. Therefore, morale goes down the tubes and police pull back. They’re literally being told to disengage and not “harass” citizens — even when citizens are asking them to do something about crime.
For cops, the message is clear: You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
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.
It’s also reported in the Sun Times that in December 2015 police were still stopping many suspects in the month after the McDonald video, but stops dropped precipitously with the implementation of Investigative Stop Reports (ISR) in January 2016 coinciding with an immediate jump in shootings and homicides. This created in many minds an “ACLU Effect.” Indeed, a post-New Year’s Eve immediate pull back by CPD could very well be due to mayor-approved ACLU reforms that create inertia in police more than the morale-destroying McDonald video street protests. A first report on stop-and-frisk post-reform issued by a retired federal judge in March 2017 said there were still disparities in the rate of frisks by race. But this is key: The percentage of blacks, whites and Hispanics stopped was almost exactly the same as March 2015 report that prompted the ACLU intervention, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The Sun Times reported:
• The race of those stopped hasn’t changed. A 2015 analysis by the ACLU found that 72 percent of those stopped by police between May and August 2014 were black. According to the 2016 police data, 71 percent of those stopped were African-American, 19 percent were Hispanic, 9 percent white and 1 percent Asian.
• African-Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be frisked. Pat-downs were done during 30 percent of the stops involving Hispanics, 29 percent involving African-Americans, 26 percent involving Asians and 22 percent involving whites.
• Yet weapons were found on African-Americans and Hispanics as infrequently as on everyone else — in just 2 percent of stops. Drugs or other “contraband” were recovered in 4 percent of the stops for each group.
Ponder the ramifications of that: If the point was not to over-police one group more than another, that didn’t really result. Whites, blacks, Hispanics — it’s still the same rate of stops for all. This is frankly completely counter-intuitive and a mystery. The only conclusion one can surmise is that police were stopping most citizens fairly and justly before “reform” and continued to do so after — decreasing stops for all racial groups exactly the same, about six times less (82% drop).
Also in March 2017, The Chicago Tribune reported about Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowing to “pull back” on federal civil rights probes of local police departments, like Chicago’s. He felt they were costing lives. He was critical of the large reduction in stops and the significant increase in murders and shootings. Again, the reporting shows how there’s no benchmark on what “excessive force” is, or how Chicago police are “quick” to engage in it.
In January, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report that found that officers were poorly trained and quick to use excessive and even deadly force without facing consequences. Confirming what residents have said for decades, the report said the department has tolerated racially discriminatory conduct.
They also quote Sessions:
“I’m really worried about Chicago with the surge in murders,” Sessions said Monday. “One of the metrics that has been reported in Chicago shows a dramatic reduction in stops and arrests in Chicago by the Police Department. So they have the same number of officers, but the number of people that are getting arrested for presumably smaller crimes — the broken windows concept that New York believes in so strongly — that has to be a factor in the increase of violence in the city.”
The Chicago Tribune manages to avoid showing that it was an incredible six-fold reduction in stops. Which would make Sessions’ case fairly easy when the Tribune eventually mentions that “Last year, the city saw more than 760 slayings and 4,300 people shot, huge increases over 487 homicides and about 3,000 shooting victims in 2015.” They also heavily quoted the ACLU and activists like Eric Russell, executive director of Tree of Life Justice League of Illinois, who said, “This systemic corruption and institutional racism has festered under Rahm Emanuel, and it will continue to do so.”
In fact, it’s often interesting how data is disseminated in the media — even within the same journal. See these two graphics featured in the Sun Times within the same six-week period:
The ACLU calls this reduction in stops a good thing, and even wrote a January 14, 2016 press release, saying, “The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is encouraged by reports that street stops have decreased as our agreement with the Chicago Police Department has been implemented.” The ACLU also defensively added:
“We reject the premise that there is a demonstrable relationship between Terry stops and crime reduction and any attempt to link the recent uptick in shootings with this reduction in stops. We believe that policing can be constitutional and bring safety to the neighborhoods of the City. That is a goal that each of us should share.”
You can reject the premise, but the facts remain: Stops went down 90% in January 2016 and shootings went up 80%? Again, the ACLU was immediately “encouraged” by stops decreasing, but said there’s no link to their agreement which began January 1, 2016.
If that’s true, how come so many police complained immediately that their hands are tied, they’re confused by the ACLU form, and morale hit rock bottom? How come a year later in January 2017, the Investigative Stop Report was simplified to reverse the trend of there being fewer stops? Though, the tweaks were small, and Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo said the “monstrosity of a report” should be tossed out and officers should return to their previous “contact cards.” That contact card data actually indicated there was no racial bias by police, which I address further below. The Sun Times reported Angelo saying Chicago cops are doing exactly what’s expected of them by the ACLU and city policy (mostly likely mandated by the mayor over the head of rank-and-file and police leadership):
“It limits stop, question and frisk completely because it was designed by the ACLU and accepted as policy by the department, which is the main contributing factor to the drop in our street stops,” Angelo said.
“People think that police officers are standing down. Police officers aren’t standing down. They’re following policy. They’re doing what the order requires. That’s what everybody’s missing.”
Angelo said what’s most infuriating is that he warned police brass of the dire consequences of the ACLU agreement.
“In 2015, when this order was signed, I told the department, ‘We’re gonna be at 700 murders before you know it. The violence is gonna go through the roof and some of our worst neighborhoods are gonna catch on fire.’ It’s like I had a crystal ball.”
It’s worth noting that Angelo’s criticism wasn’t enough to get him defeated in an April 2017 police union election by a bigger critic of police reforms. It’s also worth noting how defensive the ACLU is, blaming the former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in that same Sun Times article for “talking out of both sides of his mouth” because he signed off on the ACLU agreements in August 2015 but is now critiquing them. It’s quite possible his hand was forced by events behind the scenes with Mayor Emmanuel, who later fired McCarthy when he needed a scapegoat from what is widely seen as a cover-up during the mayor’s re-election. Thus, I’m giving McCarthy a pass when on “60 Minutes” he says the following:
“The police activity is horrific. Honestly. And there, and there’s not an excuse that could be made in my book. The noncompliance of the law is becoming legitimized. And the police are on their heels. … We’re reaching a state of lawlessness,” McCarthy said.
A survey from Pew showed that 86% of Chicago police said their work is harder because of high-profile shootings. So what are Chicago police to think in this can’t-trust-the-cop environment? Not only is the ACLU form cumbersome (“Hey, I may have wanted to talk to you for 15 minutes about that shooting down the street … but I have to fill out a very long form for the next 45 minutes of the hour if I do”), but police morale is at an all-time low. The following generalized cop-on-the-street sentiment has been widely reported: “Why should I risk my neck if every watchdog and government report says it’s us cops who are the bad actors on the streets and ignores the real crooks.” Now, I’m making up those quotes, but I surmise they’re not far from actual sentiments of CPD members. As for real quotes, officers in Chicago are actually saying to local newspapers, “You have to be a complete idiot if you don’t think the climate doesn’t have a role in the rise in crime and murder.” In the same Tribune story, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who took over as the top policeman after the fallout from the Laquan McDonald video, says with a faint silver-lining of optimism, “I’ve never seen the level of disrespect out there on the streets … I’ve never seen that before. So it is a tough time right now. But we’ll get through it.”
The Tribune vaguely referenced some of that “disrespect” and also reported that rank-and-file officers lost trust in Johnson for stripping an officer of his powers for kicking a drug-dealing arrestee in the head. A key fact was the suspect was choking his partner’s neck in a full-on street fight with a crowd surrounding the scene, which I wrote about before in a viral video that is an ink-blot test — like so much police activity — on how one views police actions. Some defend it as fully “justified” (even arguing the officers could have legally shot the dangerous suspect, citing Tennesee v Garner), and some on the evening news call it a “disgusting act.” Johnson is clearly dealing politically with two worlds, the community and his own officers who are feeling the pressure on and off the city streets, and says:
“I think they want to be the police. They just want to make sure that they don’t get in trouble for being the police. So sometimes they’re cautious about how they do things until they reconcile that ‘I’m doing the right thing for the right reason and I won’t get in trouble for it.’ But … it’s a difficult thing right now being a police officer, not just in Chicago, but across this country.”
At the grievance-heavy police blog, Second City Cop, the frustration with the ACLU is clear, and targeted directly at Karen Sheley, director of police practices for the ACLU of Illinois. A February 1, 2016 posting critical of Sheley and the ACLU included this user comment:
“The blood is on their hands. It is totally the “ACLU effect “ & Ferguson etc. I don’t know how they sleep at night knowing they are directly responsible for people dying.”
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.
Many critics have pushed back against the concept that a drop in proactive policing led to rising crime, despite the fact that in 2015 major cities, and the country, had the largest single year increase in homicides since 1971. That trend continued in 2016. Much of it is driven by cities that had high-profile killings at the hands of police (Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown), concentrations of poverty, and already high rates of criminality. Even skeptical research criminologists like Richard Rosenfeld, who said before there’s no “Ferguson Effect,” are having “second thoughts” now. “My views have been altered,” he said to The Guardian after seeing an overall 17% increase in homicide in 56 of the nation’s largest cities. Rosenfeld, who now claims “something like a Ferguson Effect was responsible for the increase.” Indeed Rosenfeld, a Founders Professor at the the University of Missouri and former President of the American Society of Criminology, wrote about the possible negative effects of “de-policing” in a June 16, 2016 paper after saying we shouldn’t be “sounding alarm bells over a “Ferguson Effect” in a 2015 policy brief.
Other criminologists like David Pyroozo of University of Boulder state that the Ferguson Effect is “long on anecdotes and short on data,” and publish papers debunking it. Yet when he and other academics write about their expertise in The Washington Post as recently as September 2017 regarding the phenomenon, there’s no mention of Chicago, Baltimore, or St. Louis — unless you look in the comments, where citizens state the obvious. Is that willful denial?
Fortunately, there are sociologists like Neil Gross who worked with a PhD candidate Marcus Mann and reviewed Google searches and an uptick interest in Black Lives Matter to write in an April 2017 published paper this alarming conclusion: “Analyzing data on 43 large U.S. cities, we find that violent crime was higher and rose more in cities where concern about police violence was greatest.”
The critics of Mac Donald should look at the continuing problem of increasing violence with fresh eyes. Additionally, civic leaders, academics and media should not be afraid of the chilling effects from the left-wing narrative saying the “Ferguson Effect” is a “racist theory,” as Daily Kos slung as a polemic in 2015.
The better argument is to say it’s “racist’ to allow poor blacks to die by being married to an ideology that repeatedly makes criminal justice and police to be the enemy. When it was all said and done, the murder rate jumped 20% from 2014 to 2016, with nearly 3000 more people killed, half of them black. Where’s the outcry there? Clearly, some kind of “Ferguson Effect” with violent crime increasing in cities marred by protest occurred. There’s very little argument on either side of the political spectrum that citizens are reluctant to work with police, and police pulled back during this period. “This is ominous,” said Mark Kleiman, a criminologist at New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management to The New York Times. “What you worry about is that the trend is broken, and the numbers are going to go back up. A 20 percent increase in homicides over the past two years is not trivial. We’ve got what looks like a serious problem here.”
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.
But who’s killed? It’s 95% black and Hispanic. There is also “a third” of the population that is 5% of people being killed, and less than 5% doing the killing. That happens to be non-Hispanic whites.pre
When does ideology get in the way of what makes rational sense?
The ACLU also blasted the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for daring to make the obvious connection between the ACLU agreement’s effect on policing and increased criminal violence. They say they feel “attacked.” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon was also involved in the DOJ report, and says key police reforms are needed and “you can’t have a top-flight police department on the cheap.” Fardon wrote how the city task force on policing and the ACLU had detrimental effects, whereas rule of law had been delegitimized and the pendulum of law enforcement swung in favor of criminal. He also stated clearly his non-political perspective in his departing 5-page open letter:
“And then on January 1, 2016, a contract began between CPD and the ACLU requiring that officers complete lengthy contact cards for every street encounter. That ACLU deal grew out of a lawsuit about stop-and-frisk, but the contract that settled the lawsuit swung the pendulum hard in the other direction by telling cops if you (officer) go talk to those kids on the corner, you’re going to have to take 40 minutes to fill out a form, and you’re going to have to give them a receipt with your badge number on it.
So by January 2016, the city was on fire. We had no police superintendent. Cops were under scrutiny. Cops had to worry about the ACLU deal. And many of them just no longer wanted to bear the risk of stopping suspects. Many became scared and demoralized. And that demoralization was compounded by the City panel’s sweeping tone and language around racism and lack of respect for the sanctity of human life.”
It’s likely for Fardon, who had nothing to lose, the principle of saving lives became more important than local politics. Thus, he bravely spoke out and said the ACLU-CPD agreement is costing lives. Thus, he was rebuked by the ACLU.
And yet, who are disproportionately the victims in Chicago? What is the goal of the ACLU and the officials from Obama’s U.S. Justice Department? Why are 911 calls and third-party case reports (crime reports) nowhere to be found to contextualize the stops in the ACLU’s damning report and the DOJ’s so-called “scathing indictment” of police (a term Fardon says the media overuses and is “not accurate”)? With Chicago shootings becoming an international story in 2016, why can’t the state of Illinois enact stronger sentences for repeat gun offenders without drawing the ire of criminal justice reform critics?
80% of the shooting perpetrators and victims are African American. In a city that is nearly one-third white, only 5% of the victims and perpetrators are white. That’s a disparity of 16 times (16x). (Sources: heyjackass.com and 2009 CPD Arrests)
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%.
Again, the data is from the CPD and was provided to the media in March 2015 based upon CPD records to defend themselves from accusations of racial bias by the ACLU. But by summer of 2015, the police department agreed with the ACLU to institute changes in how they report each stop.
The ACLU Effect is brought up by police and immediately denied by the American Civil Liberties Union. Of course. Who wants any portion of 270-plus more dead Chicago bodies resting at your well-intentioned feet? Or possibly 1500–2000 more deaths every year since 2014 if you count nationwide based on FBI and Brennan Center for Justice estimates. [Update: Link goes to my 2016–2017 Google Doc analysis on estimated murder increases; I was validated — sadly — Sept 2017 as the FBI stated there were more than 3000 additional murders in 2 years.]
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:
- 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.)
- 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.)
Regardless, the data is all in the same ball park and should on the face of it say, “There’s not racism problem with police when it comes to use of force.” But no one says that. Even if it’s the truth.
I’ve argued against this problematic “you can’t trust police” argument extensively in my “numbers” section of my Roland Fryer and use-of-force Medium posting. I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument why that 6% differential between lethal and non-lethal use of force — 25% and 31%, respectively — in national statistics indicate anything but proof police statistics are accurate. The difference is even large enough to signify how blatantly obvious it is that police today may not be pulling the trigger against black men in dangerous situations. This happened in October 2016 when a Chicago female police officer didn’t want to shoot her attacker out of fear of public scrutiny. Even CPD Superintendent Johnson was quoted in a Tribune column that said this officer was the face of the Ferguson Effect: “This officer could have lost her life. … We have to change the narrative of the law enforcement across this country.” Of course, as previously mentioned, a Washington State study that found “officers were slower to shoot armed Black suspects than armed White suspects” could have told you the same thing. Alas, it is ignored.
“But you’re wrong, man,” I hear the blogosphere cry out. “The cops are hassling all the black guys, and ‘white privilege’ keeps white people safe.” Logic destroys this common assumption when whites are 50% of people dying at the hands of police, around 25% of murderers, and close to 40% of persons arrested for violent crimes. Blacks are 25% of those killed by police, 50% of the murderers, and also close to 40% of individuals arrested for violent crimes. This flies in the face of what liberal media pundits like CNN’s Sally Kohn spin when they try to pin “69% of violent crime” arrests on white men, when they ignore per capita differences or don’t remove 90% of the “Hispanic/Latino” portion of crime from FBI crime data “white” column total.
I say Black Lives Matter needs to look elsewhere with their anger when 4% of black homicides are by police, but 12% of white homicides are instigated by law enforcement. More liberals need to be open to these indisputable facts, I argue, or people will continue to die.
Is this “white privilege”?
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!
Nationally, the trend is the same. Both liberal and conservative sources agree on the same data point. (See CDC graph.)
The liberal group Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice refers to CDC data showing the rate per million of black people killed by law enforcement is three times less than 40–50 years ago in the United States, but the rate flat-lined for all other races. Black conservative Larry Elder cites the same CDC data and asks, “So what’s driving this notion that there is now an ‘epidemic’ of white cops shooting blacks when in the last several decades the numbers of blacks killed by cops are down nearly 75 percent?” Liberal sites like The Daily Kos regularly fumble statistics by not contextualizing African American interaction rates with police, but concede Bill O’Reilly and Fox News’ use of CDC data is accurate (they also published the same CDC chart): “It is fair to point out the rate of police killing of African-Americans has significantly dropped since the 1960s.” I’ve yet to find a high-profile mainstream media story, outside Fox News, highlight how police are likely treating minority and inner city communities in the United States of America far better than in the recent past based on evidence directly from a highly respected U.S. government agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, it appears media narratives are shaped by social justice and civil rights groups unquestionably. Even when they have the data, it’s ignored or spin-doctored to state something else. (I was never a fan of Bill O’Reilly, but his push for a “No Spin Zone” serves a purpose.)
For evidence of how lethal use of force was used 4–6 times more often in Chicago in the 1970s, you can do what I did: Research. Look at page 19 (or p. “349”) of this 1982 peer-reviewed source document. Then compare to modern tabulations of Chicago’s police use of lethal force.
- 1974: 970 Chicago citizens murders (including 6 police shot and killed)
- 1974: 137 citizens shot by police (page 20 of PDF)
- 2016: 800+ Chicago citizens murdered
- 2016: 25 citizens shot by police
Again, not only has historical context scrubbed from U.S. Department of Justice damnations of Chicago policing, so are current crime demographics.
Ask yourself: Have I seen facts like these shared in the news? Why not?
Fact: Around 70% of perpetrators of crime as described by victims in Chicago are black, matching the overall arrest rate (Case Reports, Arrest Rates)
Fact: Around 70% of people in contact by police are black (Contact Cards, reported by the ACLU)
Fact: Around 70% of people shot or killed by police are black (Chicago Police Accountability Task Force Report, instigated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after the public outcry from Laquan McDonald’s death)
Fact: Around 80% of people killed in Chicago, mostly by gun violence, are black (University of Chicago’s Crime Lab)
Thus: Where’s the racial bias in today’s Chicago Police Department? How can the mayoral task force on the Chicago Police Department in early 2016 say, “CPD’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color”? How can the U.S. Justice Department investigators in 2017 say they have, “Serious concerns about the prevalence of racially discriminatory conduct by some CPD officers”?
Where is the actual evidence of disproportionate racial bias when ALL the data points — from police stopping people to police shooting people — mirror their crime rate based on third party reports, a vast majority of which are racial minority victims?
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.”
Key Source, scrubbed off the internet and archived by the Wayback Machine:
Second source with similar data: https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-news/poor-data-keeps-chicagos-stop-and-frisk-hidden-from-scrutiny/29c466ab-d556-4883-9850-4b8499b80003
Arrests by race from Chicago Police Department’s 2009 Annual Report (listed as page 43, page 45 in PDF), in most categories 65–80% are black (robbery, 85%!):
My own data-crunching arrest analysis of the CPD Annual Report PDF (72% of overall arrests are black):
Contact Cards, 72% of all stops are black (8 times higher than whites):
Chicago Police Accountability Task Force Report says 74% of the victims of police shootings 2008–14 are black (still undetermined how Tribune and DOJ numbers put that at 80%, but ostensibly using same data as this high profile task force):
A University of Chicago’s Crime Lab report released Jan 2017 states that of Chicago’s 764 people killed in 2016, African-Americans represent 80% of that total. (They also make up one-third of Chicago’s population.)
SOURCES (for all others):
FBI Uniform Crime Statistics: 27% of of overall arrests and 36% of violent crime arrests are black.
SOURCE: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/table-43 — 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.
Who kills police by race: 43% are black.
Approximately 25% of people shot and killed by police are black (13 percentage points lower than percentage of cops killed by black people).
31% of use of force is against blacks.
UPenn criminologist Greg Ridgeway says, “Recent research suggests diversity does not make officers safer and this research does not suggest diversity will reduce the risk of police shootings.”
Police shot 4–6 times more people in Chicago in the 1970s than present day. Look at page 19 (or original page 349).
60 Minutes — arrests down 33%.
Chicago’s murder rate up 57% (nearly 60%).
CDC — 70% drop in rate of killings of African Americans by police.
National police shootings and deaths, about 1 in 300,000 residents (blacks around 25%, whites around 50%). https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database (318 million U.S. population / 991 deaths by police according to The Washington Post = 320,888).
Chicago shootings (police, civilian). Last 2 years, averaging 10 shooting deaths by police in a city of 2.72 million = 1 in 272,000.
San Francisco shooting deaths, also about 1 in 300,000 residents, with new police chief due to shooting controversies. http://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/SF-s-police-involved-shootings-practices-and-7921829.php (Averaging 2.5 deaths per year in a city more than three times smaller than Chicago = 1 in 334,800)
Reasons Chicago police pulled back in 2016: “The number of stops between January and late November dropped from about 560,000 in 2015 to 100,000 this year, a result of chastened police as well as a new agreement between the city and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that changed the requirements and definition of a stop.”
Onerous new ACLU form that lead to dramatic drops in stops (and can take 45 minutes per stop).
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): http://cjr.sagepub.com/content/41/3/294.full.pdf+html
“…findings suggest that the disproportionately high arrest rate for black citizens is most likely attributable to differential involvement in reported crime rather than to racially biased law enforcement practices.”
SOURCE (2003, Stewart J. D’Alessio and Lisa Stolzenberg): http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/81/4/1381
“To date, the research that has been conducted cannot confirm or refute whether officers discriminate against members of racial minority groups.”
SOURCE (2004, NCJRS, U.S. Department of Justice): https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/213004.pdf
University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway shows black cops shoot 3.3 times more often than white counterparts: “Recent research suggests diversity does not make officers safer and this research does not suggest diversity will reduce the risk of police shootings.”
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.
But even if we’re at an all-time low when it comes to lethal and non-lethal use of force, which is likely, is that still too much use of force? What is the standard? Chicago is arguably the nation’s most heavily investigated and profiled police force where the U.S. Department of Justice says with no hesitation Chicago police engage in a pattern of “excessive” use of force, primarily towards people of color. Pardon the side eye, but what is their standard when police kill about 1 in 300,000 citizens, the same rate as the rest of the country despite having one of the highest homicide rates in the nation?
The mayor-appointed task force says police data, “gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” Allow for more snark: Are they talking about the police data that says use of force occurs around 3.3–4% of the time in Chicago for both black and white citizens, but happens 3.6–4.6% of the time in the rest of the country? Again, I’ll note: I’m the only one who did the simple math to find that us of force is 3.3% for whites and 4.0% for blacks. It was really as simple as this: Dividing the average annual instances of use of force over a 5-year period (3,693 for blacks, 383 for whites) with the arrests for the same period (93,328 for blacks, 11,541 for whites).
The Big Idea (yes, with a dose of humor and sarcasm, fully fleshed out in Sept 2017): Reform all U.S. police departments, and say “our national goal is 2% use of force.” Obviously, if the Chicago Police Department is a systemically racist institution at 3.3–4%, then “lower” is what politicians and bureaucrats may be looking for. If 3.6–4.6% is the national average, then they have even more work to do than Chicago! We want perfect numbers, so make sure it’s the same to the decimal point — don’t let the fact that one demographic may be arrested more often for violent crimes get in the way. All arrests are created equal! Also to reach 2%, it’s not just about revamping police hiring and training practices. One would have to educate citizens who are actually dictating whether use of force occurs, not the police, and ask that they follow police commands and make a complaint later if “treated rough” by an officer of the law. Look at any of the high-profile videos of police use of force, and nearly all of them come from citizens not complying with police commands, fighting, and/or resisting arrest. Perhaps Katy Perry or Beyoncé can make the public service message video with the title, “Hands Up, Don’t Mouth Off.” (I’m half serious about the last one, and Sam Harris would agree. Also, if everyone doesn’t know by now that “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” was a lie, they should by now, as Politifact gave the Black Lives Matter mantra 4 Pinocchios as one of the biggest lies of the year. That same 4 Pinocchios went to the lie “A black man is killed by police every 28 hours.”)
Former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is likely right:
U.S. Justice Department did 60 ride alongs, but didn’t talk to McCarthy:
Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon says in a no-holds-barred letter that Chicago needs court-mandated reforms, but the delegitimization of police is a huge problem. He says reform can’t be done “on the cheap.”
Fardon issues fiery letter on exit as U.S. attorney in Chicago
Zachary Fardon may be out as U.S. attorney, but that doesn't mean he's out of ideas. Hours after he abruptly resigned…
The ACLU also pushes back defensively.
ACLU complains of 'attack' by ex-U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is pushing back against the open letter released by former U.S. Attorney…
Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says:
“ We did find a pattern or practice of unconstitutional behavior on the part of the police involving force, including deadly force. And we also found that the root cause of that, or certainly a major cause of what has led the police department to fall into this situation has been a lack of systemic training, a lack of focusing on the correct techniques, a lack of proper equipment, low morale within the department.”
Current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says:
In a 2008 policy paper on consent decrees, Sessions described the agreements as “one of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power” and said that “in practice, a decree can last for many years — longer than the remedy that was needed.”
Frustratingly, Fraternal Order of Police Spokesman Dean Angelo does NOT say how the 10 times disparity for use of force as a telling marker of police racism is unfair criticism. He knows it, as it was used by Chicago police to defend itself in March 2015 amid criticisms by the ACLU. All he would have to say on NPR is, “But crime victims point out a disparity of blacks and white perpetrators by a factor of 10, and police arrest almost 10 times more blacks — so of course 10 times more instances of use of force occurs. That’s just common sense. Which is sadly missing today in the media today because I haven’t heard a single reporter or person interviewed mention it. Have you?”
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.
ACLU rips Fardon for ‘blindsided attack’ on curtailing stop-and-frisk by Chicago police
The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday blasted former U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon for what it characterized as…
Sessions orders Justice Department review of all police reform agreements
Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police…
Broken police oversight system rarely punishes cops
With his pledge to overhaul the city’s police oversight system, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has vowed to create something…
My ‘implicit bias’ against black people
In case you missed the vice presidential debate — and who didn’t? — the most memorable moment came when Indiana Gov…
Police union chief: Task force had ‘built-in bias’ before report
The president of the largest Chicago police union on Thursday blasted a new report that recommends broad reforms within…
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.
NOTE BY DAVID SHUEY, AUTHOR: This was originally posted April 4, 2017. However, I consider this a “working paper” and consistently edit it with updates while keeping the core argument, structure, and conclusions the same. I’m open to other opportunities to collaborate and/or publish. Questions can be directed to me at organica.design(at)gmail.com or via comments below.
Another Note: I eschew AP style on numbers, mostly (i.e. 2, 5, and 7 rather than two, five, and seven). This is to sustain focus on the data in this numbers-driven analysis.