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Cops of color make fewer stops and arrests, use less force than White cops, study finds

Researchers analyzed data from open records requests that showed race/ethnicity, language skills, daily shift assignments, and other information from 7,000 Chicago police officers.

Cops of color make fewer stops and arrests, use less force than White cops, study finds
Image Source: Activists Protest Police Shooting Of Homeless Man. LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 3. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Trigger Warning: Gun Violence, Police Brutality, Racism

As the Black Lives Matter movement regained momentum last summer, calls to reform police departments across the United States also grew stronger. Many demanded that law enforcement agencies more closely reflect the demographics of communities they serve, in light of the number of White police officers who killed unarmed Black men. A new study has revealed that police officers of color, and women officers, are less likely to make stops and arrests. The first of a kind study, published Thursday in the journal Science, shows how more diversity within police departments can reduce shootings and improve how police treat Black residents, CNN reports.



 

Jonathan Mummolo, assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University, was one of the authors of the study. "In line with the assertions of many social justice advocates, we find that officers of color and female officers are less likely to stop, arrest, or use force than their white or male counterparts," he said in an interview with the news outlet. "Especially when encountering minority civilians, when working in common circumstances. So diversity in policing yields tangible effects." The study was conducted by analyzing data from open records requests that showed race/ethnicity, language skills, daily shift assignments, and other information from 7,000 Chicago police officers. This data was matched to time-stamped, geolocated records that showed arrests, traffic stops, and use of force against civilians by those officers from 2012 to 2015.



 

According to the study's findings, Black police officers had 29 percent fewer stops, 21 percent fewer arrests, and 32 percent fewer instances of the use of force per shift than their White counterparts across the city of Chicago. These findings were similar for Hispanic and women officers, although the gaps were modest. Mummolo stated, "In case it wasn't already clear to some the events of the past year following the killing of George Floyd have made it undeniable that policing is one of the most pressing political and social issues of our time. And there [is] no shortage of proposals for how to change policing. But, as with so many social problems, we are still lagging behind in producing credible evidence on the efficacy of many policies largely because of data constraints. We think our study offers valuable evidence that citizens and policymakers can use as they debate the way forward."



 

In light of the recent findings, the Chicago Police Department, which has undergone major reforms in the recent past, released a statement ensuring that it is "committed to treating all individuals with dignity and respect." "Ensuring that our officers reflect the diversity of Chicago's communities is critical to public safety and constitutional policing," the statement reads. "The Department has also expanded community immersion-based training for new recruits to learn more about the communities they serve. Additionally, as part of our ongoing reform efforts, all officers are also required to undergo implicit bias training as part of annual in-service training."



 

Initially, the Chicago police force was mostly White and male. Nonetheless, about half of all sworn officers today belong to minority races and more than one-fifth are female, the study shows. "Chicago is a large and racially diverse metropolis, with roughly half of residents identifying as non-White," the researchers write. "Chicago is also heavily segregated, has a history of racial tensions between residents and police, and has come under recent scrutiny for controversial aggressive policing tactics such as 'stop and frisk.'" While this study may encourage other police departments to commit to hiring more diverse recruits, those who favor abolishing police may still wish for more radical efforts in curbing violence perpetrated by police officers.



 

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