White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers

Monday, January 6th, 2020

A recent study published in PNAS looked at officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings:

There is widespread concern about racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings and that these disparities reflect discrimination by White officers. Existing databases of fatal shootings lack information about officers, and past analytic approaches have made it difficult to assess the contributions of factors like crime. We create a comprehensive database of officers involved in fatal shootings during 2015 and predict victim race from civilian, officer, and county characteristics. We find no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.

Odds of Civilian Being White vs. Black or Hispanic

Instead, race-specific crime strongly predicts civilian race. This suggests that increasing diversity among officers by itself is unlikely to reduce racial disparity in police shootings.


  1. Ezra says:

    Black officers have authority and like to show it off.

  2. Kirk says:

    I used to hang around with a bunch of Chicago PD guys at a range I shot at on the outskirts of Chicago. The one conclusion I reached after talking to them and hearing them talk unrestrained among themselves? The black cops were just as bad, if not worse, than the white ones, when it came to the denizens of their normal beats. If anything, the blacks were more racist towards other blacks than the white cops were. Anecdotally, the black cops were also more likely to shoot, and shoot to kill, than the white ones were.

    It was weird to discover, and really stood out in my mind, seeing how all that worked. The reason, I suspect, is because the black community didn’t see another black person in that black beat cop, but just a cop. After enough of that rejection, the black cops became more cop than black, and its kind of like the conversion effect with new adherents of religions–They’re more Catholic than the Pope. Not to mention, most of the victims of low-level black-on-black crime are other blacks, and… The whole thing takes on a descent spiral in short order, ending in a very dark place. Some of those black beat cops advocated a line of bulldozers along the western edge of Southside, pushing everything into Lake Michigan, with a line of cops behind the dozers shooting anyone who got out from in front…

    Heard a lot of weird conversations like that. I have to say that the worst racist cops I’ve ever encountered were black Chicago PD guys, and their targets were other blacks. Civilian black acquaintances from that area said they always preferred to deal with white cops, and I didn’t understand quite why…

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