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The Center for Policing Equity statistic used in this analysis: Use of force occurs in 36 out of 1000 arrests for whites and 46 out of 1000 arrest for blacks.

I use and trust this data for my comparisons with Chicago’s use of force rate. See how I don’t wholly trust the source’s conclusions in the section below the next chart.

CALCULATING CHICAGO USE OF FORCE RATES (Data otherwise unavailable, so I use the following sources)

January 2017 161-page DOJ Report on Chicago Police Department used use-of-force data to paint a picture of police abuse (the report includes ZERO data for arrests or demographics of criminal perpetrators, a.k.a. “case reports”): “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.”

CALCULATIONS ON GOOGLE SPREADSHEETS (Please feel free to comment or highlight errors)

I also crunch the numbers the bottom of my original post, under the title: “How to Do the Math on Use of Force for Whites and Black Chicagoans (And How You Can Trust the Data).”

  • Black men are 34% of unarmed shooting deaths 2015–2017
  • Black women are 1.9% of all unarmed shooting deaths 2015–2017
  • White men are 35% of unarmed shooting deaths 2015–2017
  • White women are 4% of unarmed shooting deaths 2015–2017
  • Hispanic men are 19% of unarmed shooting deaths 2015–2017
  • Hispanic women are .5% of unarmed shooting deaths 2015–2017
  • Asian/Native/Other men (and no women) are 4% of unarmed shootings deaths 2015–2017
“USA” in my chart is Center for Policing Equity data.

Caveat for Center for Policing Equity Data: A Data-driven Critique of a Very Well-Endowed Nonprofit

(Skip to bottom if just want to see rest of the SOURCES)

For the “USA” part of this chart, I use Center for Policing Equity data for my comparisons, and don’t largely question it. I only question how incredibly misleading they are in presenting it (see my Summer 2016 essay) and others — especially the media, specifically The New York Times — in interpreting it. There are clear contradictions about what certain data they present really means.

Media Representation & “What Is Excessive Force?”

No standard was set for what constitutes “excessive use of force” among this data. It happens for sure. Just last week, a black Baltimore policeman just beat the hell out of a black man, which was caught caught on tape leading to the officer’s suspension and arrest (and yes, it also happens to white people). But we have no data about how often “excessive” force occurs, defined subjectively as actions “beyond what’s necessary to arrest a suspect and keep police and bystanders safe.” What we get instead from the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) is just a series of tables and charts showing blacks were sometimes a little bit more likely to be on the receiving end of force per arrest. Even when other countries report use of force, the media sensationally focuses on bulk sum racial disparities and not rates per interaction. For all we know, many countries in Europe have police that use force 5% of the time for white Europeans and 8% for non-whites, even though they use lethal force sparingly — and that’s because they don’t have a massive gun violence problem like the U.S. If these were the disparities in in other countries, that would make the U.S. police “better,” right?

Homicide rates increased 25% for African Americans in the past few years. Do we really want to see an increase to 1990s levels? Source: The Economist.
Looks bad without context, right? If I replaced “arrest rates” with “mean use force rates” the bars would be nearly the same.
From the FBI 2016 “Violent Crime” page.

Factors That Could Explain Difference of 3.6 vs. 4.6 out of 100 Arrests

We have to start with this fact: The Center for Policing Equity in Table 4 (Use of Force Rates per 1,000 Arrests, see Figure 2 below) is merely dividing all use of force incidents by all arrests, just as I did for Chicago. Like I said, I use it for my comparisons. But not all arrests are the same. Some racial group populations, just like gender, cultural and geographic populations, behave different than others. See this spreadsheet where I ran the following calculations nationwide based on 2015 FBI statistics:

  • For example, exactly 14% of both black and white arrests are for drugs (within a 100th of a decimal point, I calculated, 13.97% vs. 13.98%). This is an anomaly. Next year it could be 14% and 13%. But these don’t change much year-to-year.
  • 33% of white arrests and 22% of black arrests are in these 4 non-violent categories: Drug abuse violations, diving under the influence, liquor laws and drunkenness. These arrests are less likely to involve force. There’s a vast difference between the black and white percentages.
  • 1 out of 15 black arrests (6.7%) are for “violent crimes” in 4 categories, as defined by the FBI (rape, aggravated assault, murder or robbery), compared to 1 in 24 arrests (4.1%) for whites. The black-white percentage difference for violent arrests is 48%.
Despite the fact much the media, including the New York Times, represents the Center for Policing Equity 2016 study as proof of police racism because of this “statistically significant” 24% difference between 3.6% and 4.6%, I believe there’s another interpretation. The truest context would factor in violent arrests — blacks are much more likely to be arrested under the umbrella of “violent crime” — which along with the fact police are more often injured by non-white suspects could possibly erase the disparity. My strongest views on how this study’s public unveiling is misleading are here in my July 2016 essay written the week five Dallas police were killed in sniper fire in a “black separatist” act of terrorism as the country was engulfed in Black Lives Matter rhetoric. I may have been a little passionate, to put it lightly, in my viewpoint.
Go to page 19 and look closely.
Dr. Roland Fryer, Harvard Economist and MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship winner.
Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Franklin A. Thomas Professor in Policing Equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

In Conclusion: Is it about Justice or is it about Money?

People tend to look at Dr. Goff’s 24% white-gap and nod their heads and go, “Aha, racial bias.” But when you have the likes of Dr. Fryer’s 27.8% black-white gap favoring blacks in lethal shootings — with a vastly more complicated set of controls for his data (check out the fancy math on page 2) — you have every critic with a stake in the “racism” narrative to try and undermine you. Exhibit A: Dr. Goff. In a USA Today article critiquing Dr. Fryer, Dr. Goff says his paper was conducted “casually” and snidely mentions, “If you haven’t read all of the literature and don’t understand what you’re looking at, you end up in a position that doesn’t look good.”

Something in the red circle isn’t like the other columns. Look closely. That light grey bar is slightly higher.
From this government data put together by the Pew Research Center, I calculated increases of 2.6–3.4 times for white males, black males, black females and Hispanic males from 1960 to 2010. White women increased their share of the prison population by 8 times! People like to talk about the “War on Drugs” that disproportionately affects “people of color.” Actually, it could be argued it most disproportionately impacted white women, and all others the same. (Source: Pew Research Center using U.S. Department of Justice data.)

The War on Drugs & Incarceration

Let’s talk drugs for a minute. First, I’m against the so-called war on them. Making them illegal creates incentives for increased organized and street crime. One could make an argument that’s it’s the one government policy that treads closely to being flat-out racist. Though, there are many arguments against the idea that structural bigotry is more profound than law-breaking behavior in shaping criminal justice outcomes. One example is the fact as many meth dealers (majority white, 2% black) get mandatory minimums each year as crack dealers (majority black). Plus, we got fair sentencing guidelines in place in 2014 thanks to President Obama and Congress. Even with these Obama changes, you can be still caught on the street with 10 times less street value of rock Crack vs. powder Cocaine and get the same sentence. It used to be more than 50 times less.

An accurate graph of what people are in jail for, and how many. Approximately 50% of federal prisoners are there for drugs. But in state prisons, which make up the majority of people incarcerated, only 15% are there for drug convictions. Overall, they make up about 1 in 5 sentenced prisoners.
Violent crime is at rates double from 1960. But in the early 1990s it was five times higher than the year Nixon and Kennedy ran for president. (Source:



Here are 6 studies showing blacks are NOT injured or shot at a higher rate than whites or other racial groups by police:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, among the most reliable, shows that the rate of killings of African Americans by police went down 70% since 1968–69. But the rate flat-lined for all other races.


Police shot 4–6 times more people in Chicago in the 1970s than present day. Look at page 19 (or original page 349).

  • The Washington Post (2015): 318 million U.S. population ÷ 991 shooting deaths by police = 1 in 320,888.
  • The Guardian (2015): 318 million ÷ 1146 deaths by police — including off-duty killings and accidents = 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 (for an average of 308,000).
Graph used in the ACLU Effect paper.


Ferguson Effect paper (2017):

Watch ACLU Effect author Paul Cassell on YouTube present slides like this one above to show the clear change in policing that coincided with an immediate spike in criminal homicide and shootings in Chicago. Professor Cassell’s Wikipedia page says the ACLU Effect “argument has been disputed,” I would says the data backs what anyone with common sense would see. And to quote Cassell: “If this isn’t the best explanation, is there a better one?”



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

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David Shuey

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