There are a number of fatal shootings of black people by police within the United States in the media presently. The problem with this can’t be understated, but there is an issue. There is very little information on how racial bias impacts fatal police shootings, and because of that, it’s complicated to define the true impact race has on law enforcement.
Some studies show that there is an intentional bias. Other evidence points to implicit bias. Whatever kind there may be, the fact is that those of color could face a higher likelihood of being fatally shot or mistreated by police.
Does race play a role in police shootings?
When looking at all the evidence, there is the implication that race could impact your experience with police. It could be the difference between a traffic ticket or a stop that results in a shooting.
One study from the Washington Post stated that when factoring in threat levels, black Americans who are fatally shot are actually less likely to pose an imminent threat to police than white Americans. The findings showed that the only significant difference in these cases was the color of victims’ skin.
Police may also determine whom to stop motivated by an implicit or intentional racial bias. Looking at police practices in San Francisco, racial disparities regarding the stops performed stood out. A high number were stops, searches and arrests of African-Americans. Interestingly, despite being stopped and searched or arrested more often, African-American and Hispanic people were the least likely to have contraband recovered off their person.
What these few records show is that there is much work to do in the justice system. Police need to be held accountable for their actions, and it’s not enough to say that not all police are bad. There are true problems borne out by statistics.