Jason has a way of making you look at an issue that broadens the mind.
Officer Characteristics And Racial Disparities In Fatal Officer-Involved Shootings (PNAC)
Despite extensive attention to racial disparities in police shootings, two problems have hindered progress on this issue. First, databases of fatal officer-involved shootings (FOIS) lack details about officers, making it difficult to test whether racial disparities vary by officer characteristics. Second, there are conflicting views on which benchmark should be used to determine racial disparities when the outcome is the rate at which members from racial groups are fatally shot. We address these issues by creating a database of FOIS that includes detailed officer information. We test racial disparities using an approach that sidesteps the benchmark debate by directly predicting the race of civilians fatally shot rather than comparing the rate at which racial groups are shot to some benchmark. We report three main findings: 1) As the proportion of Black or Hispanic officers in a FOIS increases, a person shot is more likely to be Black or Hispanic than White, a disparity explained by county demographics; 2) race-specific county-level violent crime strongly predicts the race of the civilian shot; and 3) although we find no overall evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities in fatal shootings, when focusing on different subtypes of shootings (e.g., unarmed shootings or “suicide by cop”), data are too uncertain to draw firm conclusions. We highlight the need to enforce federal policies that record both officer and civilian information in FOIS.