Statistics experts at the National Bureau of Economic Research released a working paper on July 11, 2016, entitled An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force (NBER Working Paper No. 22399). Authored by Roland G. Fryer Jr., Professor of Economics at Harvard University, data on over 1,332 shootings between 2000 and 2015 in ten major police departments was examined.
Dr. Fryer found that blacks and Hispanics are treated differently than whites by police. While the study found that they are more often touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed, the study showed no racial bias in police shootings. Dr. Fryer stresses that this work focused only on what happens once the police have stopped civilians, not on the initial risk of being stopped. His study reported on Texas, Florida and California and he states that more data needs to be collected to understand these issues across the US. Also, this study examined a large number of shootings, some nonfatal, and did not specifically focus on most recent events. The paper’s abstract states:
This paper explores racial differences in police use of force. On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police. Adding controls that account for important context and civilian behavior reduces, but cannot fully explain, these disparities. On the most extreme use of force – officer involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account. We argue that the patterns in the data are consistent with a model in which police officers are utility maximizers, a fraction of which have a preference for discrimination, who incur relatively high expected costs of officer-involved shootings.
Criminal statistics reveal information on the incident, police involvement, weapon, victim injury, and location of the crime. Statistics experts specialize in the study, organization, and analytical interpretation of this data. They base their findings on rigorous analysis of the evidence. The Committee on Professional Ethics of the American Statistical Association states: “Good statistical practice is fundamentally based on transparent assumptions, reproducible results, and valid interpretations.” The statistics expert’s testimony has proven its value in court because it is based on informed judgments supported by proven statistical methods.