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Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects?

38 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2016 Last revised: 19 Sep 2017

John R. Lott Jr.

Crime Prevention Research Center

Carlisle E. Moody

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 15, 2016

Abstract

Using a unique new data set on police-involved homicides, we apply several discrimination tests to determine if white police officers discriminate against black suspects. We find that the probability of an unarmed black suspect being killed by a white police officer is significantly greater than the probability of a black suspect being killed by a black police officer. We also find that while black officers are generally more likely than white officers to kill unarmed black suspects at a higher rate than they kill unarmed white ones, the differences in these gaps for black and white officers are not statistically significant. These findings are inconsistent with taste-based discrimination on the part of white police officers.

Keywords: discrimination, police use of force, racial bias

JEL Classification: K42, J71

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R. and Moody, Carlisle E., Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects? (November 15, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2870189 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2870189

John R. Lott Jr. (Contact Author)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

DC
United States

Carlisle E. Moody

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
757-221-2373 (Phone)
757-221-1175 (Fax)

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