Study shows non-white officers make fewer stops and use less force

The study is the most fine-grained of its kind to date.
Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 8:52 AM EST
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(WILX) - A new study suggests deploying more police officers of color and female officers could help reduce instances of officer-involved shootings and police misconduct. Most of the differences involved discretionary stops for “suspicious” activity or minor violations.

Researchers Bocar Ba, an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California Irvine, Dean Knox, an Assistant Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Jonathan Mummolo at Princeton University looked at data from 7,000 Chicago officers from 2012 to 2015. It showed black officers had nearly 30% fewer stops, more than 20% fewer arrests, and more than 30% fewer instances of the use of force per shift than white officers city-wide.

“These are not small numbers,” says Phillip Atiba Goff, professor of African American studies and psychology at Yale University and co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity, whose commentary on the study appears in Science. “They imply that you can save lives by increasing the number of Black and women officers.”

“The whole question whether diversity makes a difference or not in policing is a huge policy issue,” says Christopher Winship, professor of sociology at Harvard University. “A paper like this can have a huge impact on the local level going forward.”

The findings were similar for Hispanic and female officers.

The full report titled “The role of officer race and gender in police-civilian interactions in Chicago” can be read here.

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