Btw, I can show how “opposing” numbers of the argument being pushed to say racial bias in use of force is significant. From the available data propped up to say “racism” and “brutality” I honestly see little of both.

A friend tried to give me this new study that says that EVEN controlling for crime (which the numbers clearly say blacks are stopped 3.6 times more), there’s still a 1.3 times greater (20+% greater) likelihood of having use-of-force take place. But this is where I realized: The mainstream media and academia bullshits with the stats, sometimes. Or simply aren’t clear. 20% more also means 1% difference on the ground. Below, you can see clearly that just under 95% of the time both blacks (95.4%) and whites (96.4%) per encounter do NOT have use of force applied against them by police. That’s the same as saying, “use of force is not shown 944 times out of 1000 arrests for black Americans and 934 out of 1000 arrests for white Americans.”

The Debunking of a Misleading NY Times Headline: “Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks”

My $100 bet. WOULDN’T evidence of excessive use of force be a rate 4 times higher or greater for black persons compared to overall US population? But the “evidence” in a pro-equity academic-police partnership organization is simply pointing out the 2.5 times higher in use-of-force rate. I’ll give $100 to anyone who can prove that I’m wrong. (Anyone can try: A professional statistician, academic, journalist, or regular Joe or Jenny Schmo.)

Now, the second data set the NY Times chose to highlight did seem interesting and raises eyebrows:

“For those who were arrested, the mean rate of use of force against blacks was 46 for every 1,000 arrests, compared with 36 per 1,000 for whites.”

46 to 36 per 1000 is a significant difference statistically. It’s like saying, “If black, you’re 20% more likely to have use of force used against you.” It’s not twice as likely, but it’s an indicator of possible bias — evidence! Then again, there’s two key factors: 1. How the police are engaging differently (are they?); 2. How the arrested person is responding differently (are they?). Also, fundamental to understanding that difference are the circumstances of arrests. Blacks are far more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for violent crimes (matching victim reports), with a homicide rate 8 times higher than whites. So hypothetically apples and oranges.

Do studies like this one by the Center for Policing Equity look at that, or consider the “full picture” of each interaction? Or the different crimes in which people are arrested? Issues of trust around police make this a chicken or egg situation, which I don’t deny needs fixing. I also don’t deny police may not document every “bad” stop or interaction (see this 2016 Frontline piece, “Policing the Police”), but how much that skews the 2.5 times “use of force” difference, it’s hard to speculate (though many do).

I suspect the perception and occasional reality of being treated different feeds the mistrust. Yet even if use of force is not shown 944 times out of 1000 arrests for black Americans (or 934 out of 1000 arrests for white Americans), writers on esteemed news sources like Public Radio International will continue to offer platforms for distortions like, “I know why Freddie Gray ran. And it’s not because of any history or anything he’s doing wrong. He ran because for young Black men, encounters with police often do not go well.” Actually, according to the Center for Policing Equity’s own data, 21 out 22 times they do “go well” with no “use of force” for blacks, and 27 out of 28 times it’s the same results for whites. And I’d say logic dictates Gray ran because he had more than 20 criminal court cases against him, often for drug dealing.

But again for black Americans, 31% of total instances of “use of force” vs. 28% of total times arrested indicates to me that overall there’s negligible bias. I wonder how these two data sets are unrelated. I suspect they are not.

Writer. Researcher. Designer. Human seeking better outcomes. Also searching for relevant facts and logical arguments above expedient or politial narratives.