Multiple Studies Confirm
Political commentator and attorney Heather Mac Donald posted an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week that argues police should be held accountable when they use excessive force, but evidence of “widespread racial bias” by police doesn’t exist.
“However sickening the video of Floyd’s arrest, it isn’t representative of the 375 million annual contacts that police officers have with civilians,” Mac Donald wrote in her piece titled “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism.” Mac Donald continues, “A solid body of evidence finds no structural bias in the criminal-justice system with regard to arrests, prosecution or sentencing. Crime and suspect behavior, not race, determine most police actions.”
Mac Donald backed up that claim with federal statistics explaining that police shot and killed 1,004 people in 2019, most of whom were armed and/or deemed dangerous. Out of that number, about a quarter of those, 235, were black, which is roughly the same percentage every year since 2015.
That number is less than one would expect when comparing it to the national black crime rate, Mac Donald argues.
“That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects,” she wrote. “In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.”
Mac Donald then pointed out that the police shot and killed nine unarmed black suspects and 19 unarmed white suspects in 2019, which was down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. When those numbers are compared to the total number of black homicide victims, 7,407 in 2018, the nine unarmed black victims killed by police represented 0.1% of all black people killed in 2019.
“By contrast, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer,” Mac Donald concluded.
Mac Donald also cited two studies that she says show an “undercutting” of the racist police narrative pushed by Democratic politicians, notably former President Barack Obama. One study, from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that the more often officers encounter violent suspects from any racial group, the more likely that person will be shot and killed by an officer. The second study, based on Justice Department analysis of the Philadelphia Police Department, showed that white police officers were less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than black or Hispanic officers.
“The Minneapolis officers who arrested George Floyd must be held accountable for their excessive use of force and callous indifference to his distress,” Mac Donald said in closing. “Police training needs to double down on de-escalation tactics. But Floyd’s death should not undermine the legitimacy of American law enforcement, without which we will continue on a path toward chaos.”
Protests, riots, and looting have broken out across the country since George Floyd’s death while in police custody on May 25. Four officers were fired, and one was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter with more charges expected this week.
Many Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, have blamed the tragedy on systemic racism within police departments. Biden has promised to “deal with institutional racism” by setting up a police oversight body within his first 100 days in office if elected president.
Author: Andrew Mark Miller
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