Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects?

Economics, Law and Policy, Vol 4, no 2, 2021

39 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2016 Last revised: 24 Jan 2022

See all articles by John R. Lott

John R. Lott

Crime Prevention Research Center

Carlisle E. Moody

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics; Crime Prevention Research Center

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 not 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.

published Economics, Law and Policy, Vol 4, no 2, 2021

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). Economics, Law and Policy, Vol 4, no 2, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2870189 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2870189

John R. Lott (Contact Author)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 2293
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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)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 3234
Alexandria, VA
United States

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