Research ‘demolishes the Democratic narrative’
A study by several academics indicates that a popular left-wing talking point—that white police officers are more likely to shoot black suspects—is false.
The study, by faculty from the University of Maryland and Michigan State University, “demolishes the Democratic narrative regarding race and police shootings, which holds that white officers are engaged in an epidemic of racially biased shootings of black men,” writes Heather Mac Donald at National Review Online.
To develop the study, the researchers “created a database of 917 officer-involved fatal shootings in 2015 from more than 650 police departments.” The demographics of those shootings, Mac Donald writes, run sharply counter to the liberal narrative of police shootings: “Fifty-five percent of the victims were white, 27 percent were black, and 19 percent were Hispanic. Between 90 and 95 percent of the civilians shot by officers in 2015 were attacking police or other citizens; 90 percent were armed with a weapon. So-called threat-misperception shootings, in which an officer shoots an unarmed civilian after mistaking a cellphone, say, for a gun, were rare.”
These data are part of a trend, Mac Donald claims:
Earlier studies have also disproven the idea that white officers are biased in shooting black citizens. The Black Lives Matter narrative has been impervious to the truth, however. Police departments are under enormous political pressure to hire based on race, despite existing efforts to recruit minorities, on the theory that doing so will decrease police shootings of minorities. Buttigieg came under fire from his presidential rivals for not having more black officers on the South Bend force after a white officer killed a black suspect this June. (The officer had responded to a 911 call about a possible car-theft suspect, saw a man leaning into a car, and shot off two rounds after the man threatened him with a knife.) The Obama administration recommended in 2016 that police departments lower their entry standards in order to be able to qualify more minorities for recruitment. Departments had already been deemphasizing written exams or eliminating requirements that recruits have a clean criminal record, but the trend intensified thereafter. The Baltimore Police Department changed its qualifying exam to such an extent that the director of legal instruction in the Baltimore Police Academy complained in 2018 that rookie officers were being let out onto the street with little understanding of the law. [Joe] Biden’s criminal-justice plan would require police hiring to “mirror the racial diversity” of the local community as a precondition of federal funding.
“This effort to increase minority representation will not reduce racial disparities in shootings, concludes the PNAS study, since white officers are not responsible for those disparities; black crime rates are,” Mac Donald writes.
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