The Great Racial Disconnect on Police
August 22, 2014
On Monday, Rasmussen released a poll of Americans regarding the guilt or innocence of Officer Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot unarmed 18-year-old black man Michael Brown six times in Ferguson, Missouri. Those polls show that 57 percent of black adults think that Wilson should be found guilty of murder; 56 percent of whites, by contrast, are undecided on the matter.
The latter position is the correct one. Witnesses, including one Dorian Johnson, claim that Brown was pulled over by Wilson, attacked by him and pulled into the car, ran, stopped when told to freeze by Wilson, held up his hands, and was then shot. Other witnesses — more than a dozen of them, according to local media — say that Brown attacked Wilson, went for Wilson’s gun, fled before being told to stop, then charged Wilson before being shot.
Here’s what we do know: Despite original media reports labeling Brown a “gentle giant,” Brown and shooting witness Dorian Johnson did participate in a strong-arm robbery of a local convenience store. We know that despite original witness reports suggesting that Brown was shot in the back, he was not. We know that contemporaneous witness accounts caught on tape suggest that Brown charged at Wilson. And we know that a young black man is dead with six bullets in him at the hands of a white cop.
And to huge segments of the black community, that last fact is the only one that matters. The full facts do not matter to extremists in the black community and to their white leftist enablers, particularly in the media. A full 41 percent of black Americans believe that riots and looting represent “legitimate outrage.” Not protesting — riots and looting. Just 35 percent of blacks think that looters and rioters are criminals taking advantage of the situation.
There is a pattern here: a widespread belief in the black community that the justice system is rigged against them. That belief is not without basis — there is no question that America has a history of racism within the criminal justice community. By the same token, there is also no question that American law enforcement is the least racist it has ever been, by a long shot, and that racism within the law enforcement community is broadly considered unacceptable and vile.
But the belief in a racist justice system seems to have maintained its stranglehold inside the black community. That belief, taken to its extreme, means support for black criminality. It is no coincidence that during the O.J. Simpson trial, 60 percent of black Americans did not believe O.J. was guilty. It is also no coincidence that many white Americans perceive black support for murderers like O.J. Simpson and riots in Ferguson as support for lawlessness, and therefore pooh-pooh charges of police racism. When crying racism becomes crying wolf, it is hard to take such charges seriously.
The solution, however, lays neither in knee-jerk accusations of racism from the black community nor in immediate dismissals of individual accusations by the white community. It lies in continued targeting and prosecution of individual racists in the police community, of course — and far more importantly, it lies in less criminality within the black community. The high levels of crime in the black community contribute to heavier policing, which in turn reinforces perceptions of racial targeting; those perceptions then create resentment against police than ends too often in violent encounters and failure to report crime. And so the cycle starts anew.
It’s time to break the cycle. The only way to do that is to focus on the fact that police have no excuse to shoot anyone unless those people are committing criminal acts. On that we can all agree. Yes, we must arduously insist that police hold to that standard, and we must prosecute those who do not to the fullest extent of the law. But by the same token, we must insist that criminal acts stop — and to do that, we must move beyond simple anti-police sentiment.
Ben Shapiro, 30, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, a radio host on KTTH 770 Seattle and KRLA 870 Los Angeles, Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org, and Senior Editor-at-Large of Breitbart News. He is the New York Times bestselling author of “Bullies.” His latest book, “The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration,” will be released on June 10. He lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles.
Major Findings from The Color of Crime 2005
- Police and the justice system are not biased against minorities.
- Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.
- When blacks commit crimes of violence, they are nearly three times more likely than non-blacks to use a gun, and more than twice as likely to use a knife.
- Hispanics commit violent crimes at roughly three times the white rate, and Asians commit violent crimes at about one quarter the white rate.
- The single best indicator of violent crime levels in an area is the percentage of the population that is black and Hispanic.
- Of the nearly 770,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving blacks and whites, blacks commit 85 percent and whites commit 15 percent.
- Blacks commit more violent crime against whites than against blacks. Forty-five percent of their victims are white, 43 percent are black, and 10 percent are Hispanic. When whites commit violent crime, only three percent of their victims are black.
- Blacks are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.
- Blacks are 2.25 times more likely to commit officially-designated hate crimes against whites than vice versa.
- Only 10 percent of youth gang members are white.
- Hispanics are 19 times more likely than whites to be members of youth gangs. Blacks are 15 times more likely, and Asians are nine times more likely.
- Between 1980 and 2003 the US incarceration rate more than tripled, from 139 to 482 per 100,000, and the number of prisoners increased from 320,000 to 1.39 million.
- Blacks are seven times more likely to be in prison than whites. Hispanics are three times more likely.
HEATHER Mac DONALD
June 25, 2010
THERE was a predictable chorus of criticism from civil rights groups last month when the New York Police Department released its data on stop-and-frisk interactions for 2009. The department made 575,000 pedestrian stops last year. Fifty-five percent involved blacks, even though blacks are only 23 percent of the city’s population. Whites, by contrast, were involved in 10 percent of all stops, though they make up 35 percent of the city’s population.
According to the department’s critics, that imbalance in stop rates results from officers’ racial bias. The use of these stops, they say, should be sharply curtailed, if not eliminated entirely, and some activists are suing the department to achieve that end.
Allegations of racial bias, however, ignore the most important factor governing the Police Department’s operations: crime. Trends in criminal acts, not census data, drive everything that the department does, thanks to the statistics-based managerial revolution known as CompStat. Given the patterns of crime in New York, it is inevitable that stop rates will not mirror the city’s ethnic and racial breakdown.
CompStat embodies the iconoclastic idea that the police can stop violence before it happens. The department analyzes victim reports daily, and deploys additional manpower to the places where crime is increasing. Once at a crime hot spot, officers are expected to look out for, and respond to, suspicious behavior.
Such stops happen more frequently in minority neighborhoods because that is where the vast majority of violent crime occurs — and thus where police presence is most intense. Based on reports filed by victims, blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crime in New York in 2009, including 80 percent of shootings and 71 percent of robberies. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of reported gun assaults. And the vast majority of the victims of violent crime were also members of minority groups.
Non-Hispanic whites, on the other hand, committed 5 percent of the city’s violent crimes in 2009, 1.4 percent of all shootings and less than 5 percent of all robberies.
Given these facts, the Police Department cannot direct its resources where they are most needed without generating racially disproportionate stop data, even though the department’s tactics themselves are colorblind. The per capita rate of shootings in the 73rd Precinct — which covers Brooklyn’s largely black Ocean Hill and Brownsville neighborhoods — is 81 times higher than in the 68th Precinct in largely white Bay Ridge. Not surprisingly, the per capita stop rate in the 73rd Precinct is 15 times higher than that in the 68th.
Crime rates are not the only thing that drives police strategy — so do requests for assistance from communities besieged by lawlessness. If residents of an apartment building ask their precinct commander to eliminate the drug dealing on their street, officers will likely question people hanging out around the building and step up their enforcement of quality-of-life laws, resulting in more stops. Requests for crackdowns on street sales come far more frequently from minority neighborhoods, because that is where most open-air drug dealing occurs.
Some critics charge that the more than half a million stops last year indicate that the department is out of control. But the ratios of stops to population and of stops to total arrests in New York are very close to those in Los Angeles, where last summer a judge lifted a federal consent decree under which the police department had operated for the last eight years. The police stop data in Los Angeles are as racially disproportionate as New York’s, yet the judge deemed them consistent with civil rights.
For several years, the ratio of stops in New York that resulted in an arrest or summons — about 12 percent of the total — was identical for whites, blacks and Hispanics, suggesting that the police use the same measure of reasonable suspicion in stopping members of different racial and ethnic groups. Just because a stop does not result in an arrest or summons does not mean that it did not interrupt a crime. Someone who is casing a victim or acting as a lookout may not have inculpatory evidence on him on which to base an arrest.
No public policy change of the last quarter-century has done as much for the city’s poor and minority neighborhoods as CompStat policing. More than 10,000 black and Hispanic males are alive today who would have been killed had homicide rates remained at the levels of the early 1990s.
Most minority-group members in the city recognize the enormous benefit from CompStat policing. A poll released last month by Quinnipiac University found that 68 percent of black respondents approve of the job Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is doing, suggesting that the city’s civil rights activists do not speak for their purported beneficiaries on this issue.
The attack on the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk data is based on the false premise that police activity should mirror census data, not crime. If the critics get their way, it would strip police protection from the New Yorkers who need it most.
Heather Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of “Are Cops Racist?”
Blacks Suffer Disproportionate Share of Firearm Homicide Deaths
Blacks were 55% of shooting homicide victims in 2010, but 13% of the population.
In 2010, there were 31,672 deaths in the U.S. from firearm injuries, mainly through suicide (19,392) and homicide (11,078), according to CDC compilation of data from death certificates.
Among racial and ethnic groups, blacks are over-represented among gun homicide victims; blacks were 55% of shooting homicide victims in 2010, but 13% of the population.
By contrast, whites are underrepresented; whites were 25% of the victims of gun homicide in 2010, but 65% of the population. For Hispanics, the 17% share of gun homicide victims was about equal to their 16% proportion of the total population.
The black homicide death rate has declined 50% since its peak in 1993, and the number of black homicide deaths fell by more than a third (37%) from 1993 to 2010. The white homicide death rate has declined by 42% over that time, and the number of white homicide deaths declined 39%. The Hispanic shooting homicide rate fell 69% from 1993 to 2000, and the number of deaths declined by 40%.
From 2000 to 2010, when the overall gun homicide rate decline slowed, the Hispanic rate fell 32%, while the black and white rates declined only 4%.