Study Finds More Black Police May Not Prevent Police Shootings of African Americans

A new study by researchers at Indiana University finds that the hiring of more Black police officers will not reduce the number of Black citizens who are shot by police. The results showed that until the number of Black officers reached between 35 percent and 40 percent of the police force, adding Black officers had no effect on the number of police-involved shootings of Black citizens or was associated with a higher number of such shootings.

“At that point [35 to 40 percent] and higher, individual officers may become less likely to discriminate against Black citizens and more inclined to assume a minority advocacy role,” according to Sergio Fernandez, a co-author of the study.

But smaller increases in Black officers was found not to have a significant impact. “More Black officers are seen as a way to directly reduce unnecessary violence between police and citizens,” said study co-author Sean Nicholson-Crotty. “We found that, for the vast majority of cities, simply increasing the percentage of Black officers is not an effective solution. There may be other good reasons to have a police force that is more representative, but there is little evidence that more Black cops will result in fewer homicides of Black citizens.”

The study, “Will More Black Cops Matter? Officer Race and Police-Involved Homicides of Black Citizens,” was published on the website of the journal Public Administration Review. It may be accessed here.

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