Black Lives Matter's Effect on Police Lethal Use-of-Force

65 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2021 Last revised: 13 May 2021

Date Written: May 13, 2021


Has Black Lives Matter influenced police lethal use-of-force? A difference-in-differences design finds census places with protests experienced a 15% to 20% decrease in police homicides from 2014 through 2019, around 300 fewer deaths. This decrease was prominent when protests were large or frequent. Potential mechanisms behind the reduction include police agencies obtaining body-worn cameras to curtail force and depolicing following a so-called `Ferguson Effect.' Fewer property crimes, but more murders, were reported to agencies with local protests; in contrast, the property crime clearance rate fell. Demographic imbalance by protest status and limited variation in treatment timing warrant a cautious interpretation.

Keywords: Black Lives Matter, Police, Law and Economics, Police Homicides, Use-of-force, Law Enforcement, Ferguson Effect, Depolicing

JEL Classification: K42, Z13, D74

Suggested Citation

Campbell, Travis, Black Lives Matter's Effect on Police Lethal Use-of-Force (May 13, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Travis Campbell (Contact Author)

Southern Oregon University ( email )

1250 Siskiyou Boulevard
Ashland, OR 97520-5022
United States

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