academics & research

IU research reaches conclusion on black cops

Research from IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs found that hiring more black police officers will not result in fewer police-related homicides of black citizens.

In the wake of the police shooting an unarmed black citizen in Ferguson, Missouri, and other homicides in more than a dozen cities, Professor of Political Science Sean Nicholson-Crotty, Associate Professor Jill Nicholson-Crotty and Associate Professor Sergio Fernandez began their research concluding that cities would need a massive increase in the percentage of black officers to make a real difference. They found that adding only adding a few could make matters worse.

“There may be other good reasons to have a police force that is more representative,“Nicholson-Crotty said in the release. “But there is little evidence that more black cops will result in fewer homicides of black citizens.”

If the number of black officers surpassed 35 to 40 percent, there was a chance it could be associated with a lower number of police-involved shooting of black citizens.

However, until the number of black officers reached 35 to 40 percent, adding more had no effect or led to more of these shootings.

The article, “Will More Black Cops Matter? Officer Race and Police-Involved Homicides of Black Citizens” will appear in the March/April issue of Public Administration Review as part of a symposium on race and policing, according to the release.

There was not any data allowed a study of this type on police homicides until recently.

The researchers were able to use data from Mapping Police Violence, an advocacy group that developed a database of police homicides in the 100 largest American cities in 2014 and a Washington Post collection of data on police-involved homicides in 2015 to reach their conclusion, according to the release.

Some research found that greater representation reduces discrimination, while others concluded it had no effect and it worsened cases of discrimination.

“Because of these inconsistent conclusions, we want to find out if there’s a critical mass, a point at which the impact of more black officers on police-involved homicides changes from positive or neutral to negative,” Jill Nicholson-Crotty said in the release.

However, the authors say more investigation is necessary to understand the relationship between race, protection of peace and administration of justice.

Cody Thompson

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