Washington Times: The real racial bias: Cops more willing to shoot whites than blacks, research finds
It’s widely assumed that white police officers are more likely to shoot black suspects as a result of racial bias, but recent research suggests the opposite is true.
An innovative study published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology found that participants in realistic simulations felt more threatened by black suspects yet took longer to pull the trigger on black men than on white or Hispanic men.
“This behavioral ‘counter-bias’ might be rooted in people’s concerns about the social and legal consequences of shooting a member of a historically oppressed racial or ethnic group,” said the paper, which went practically unnoticed when it was published online on May 22, but took on new significance in the wake of a series of high-profile police-involved shootings involving black victims over the summer.
The results back up what one of the researchers, University of Missouri-St. Louis professor David Klinger, has found after independently interviewing more than 300 police officers: While they don’t want to shoot anybody, they really don’t want to shoot black suspects.
“Across these 300 interviews, I have multiple officers telling me that they didn’t shoot only because the suspect was black or the suspect was a woman, or something that would not be consistent with this narrative of cops out there running and gunning,” said Mr. Klinger, a former cop and author of “Into the Kill Zone: A Cop’s Eye View of Deadly Force” (2006).
“When it comes to the issue of race, I’ve never had a single officer tell me, ‘I didn’t shoot a guy because he was white.’ I’ve had multiple officers tell me, ‘I didn’t shoot a guy because he was black,’ ” Mr. Klinger said. “And this is 10, even 20 years ago. Officers are alert to the fact that if they shoot a black individual, the odds of social outcry are far greater than if they shoot a white individual.”