Race and Policing
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How do you measure justice? It is a question that has confounded scholars, activists, and public servants since before it was even asked. Yet, despite the inherent philosophical, methodological, and logistical difficulties, law enforcement executives are increasingly asked to turn over data with the aim of evaluating how fairly they are doing their jobs. Rather than shrink from this task, courageous executives are seeking out partnerships with prominent researchers to solve this riddle and lead policing in the nation with respect to civil rights and public accountability.
The current report examines racial disparities in use of force across 12 law enforcement departments from geographically and demographically diverse locations and reveals that racial disparities in police use of force persist even when controlling for racial distribution of local arrest rates. Additionally, multiple participating departments still demonstrated racial disparities when force incidents were benchmarked exclusively against Part I violent arrests, such that Black residents were still more likely than Whites to be targeted for force.
This brief is a partnership between Urban and the Center for Policing Equity's National Justice Database, in collaboration with the White House's Police Data Initiative. The brief analyzes publicly available data in 2015 vehicle stops and 2014 use of force incidents on the part of the Austin Police Department. Findings indicate that even when controlling for neighborhood levels of crime, education, homeownership, income, youth, and unemployment, racial disparities still exist in both use and severity of force. We also document that APD has a high level of transparency, and the analysis demonstrates the value of that democratization of police department data in examining whether community-level explanations are sufficient to explain observed racial disparities.
The aim of the report is to provide law enforcement with a powerful tool towards the goal of ensuring equity in public safety. The report combines analyses from multiple police departments across the country and provides feedback on their stop, force, policy, and climate survey data. The report provides straightforward statistical answers to some of the most pressing questions that cut across law enforcement agencies.