Thursday, July 27, 2017
Research vs. slogans

Research vs. slogans

Volume 1501, Number 12

Don’t shoot I’m Black

Often what we know “ain’t necessarily so.” Media articles would have us believe that police are anxious to shoot Black subjects. And we might believe that cops carry lots of equipment to help them do a better job.

In reality, Cops are more reluctant to shoot Black subjects and more likely to err in shooting Whites and Hispanics. And, they are hindered in their ability to evade or physically overcome attackers because of the load of gear they are carrying.

Further, many cops nationwide are in poor physical condition as well, adding to their effective burden. They add to the burdens of their employers, too, who must pay for their medical treatment when they are (inevitably) injured.

One article summarizes research:

“Race affects decisions to shoot

Previous studies of the impact of race on LEO fatal-decision making have been shallow computer “voting” tests. A “real life” test on a simulator led to very different conclusions: Police officers tend to be slower to apply deadly force to Black subjects than to White or Hispanics. Errors of shooting unarmed subjects were more prevalent for Whites and Hispanics as well.

In sum, this research found that participants displayed significant bias favoring Black suspects in their decisions to shoot or not shoot.


‘The results of these three experiments challenge the results of less robust experimental designs and shed additional light on the broad issue of the role that status characteristics, such as race and ethnicity, play in the criminal justice system.’”

Another concerns research about the effects of increasing load on police safety:

“Very fit LEOs were tested on their ability to move and maneuver so as to reduce their danger in a gunfight or a serious altercation.

Conclusively, the results of this study show the increasing weights of duty gear and protective equipment have detrimental effects on officer velocity and acceleration, impeding their mobility, which may be dangerous in use of force or threatening situations.”

CMPD tends to bring in backup and to use non-lethal force (such as Tasers) early. These policies help keep the officers safer as they do their work, in spite of their load of gear. However, as this study suggests, the added weight they carry can lead to greatly increased “lost time” injuries, especially if the officer is not physically fit.

Of all the LEOs on CMPD’s “injured” list, how many would be functioning today if they had been more fit at the time they were injured? How many would be duty ready if they had been required to carry half as much weight?

A lot of issues are better addressed by starting with facts instead of opinion or bias. If we “know it’s true” because we read it on a blog or in a community newspaper, there’s a good chance “it ain’t necessarily so.”

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