Race and Policing
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The recent protests and civil unrest that marked the death of George Floyd and other African Americans in police custody gave voice to real and significant racial disparities in our criminal justice system. In California, like the rest of the nation, these disparities—especially those between African Americans and whites—are large and widespread. Encouragingly, some recent reforms appear to be making headway in reducing racial and ethnic differences in arrest, booking, and incarceration rates.
While 68% of white Americans have a favorable view of the police, only 40% of African Americans and 59% of Hispanics have a favorable view.1 Attitudes have changed little since the 1970s when 67% of whites and 43% of blacks reported favorable views of the police. 2 Racial minorities do not have monolithic attitudes toward the police. This report finds that Hispanics' perceptions of police occupy a "middle ground" between black and white Americans' views.
This paper examines the research on the costs and benefits of police body cameras, arguing that the devices can, if properly deployed and regulated, provide a valuable disincentive to police abuses as well as valuable evidence for punishing abuses when they occur.