police officer pointing gun

White Police Officers Are Not Targeting Minorities In Shootings, MSU Study Finds

July 23, 2019 - 2:32 pm

EAST LANSING (WWJ) - White officers are not targeting black people and other minorities in recent police shootings, according to a new Michigan State University study.

The study's co-author, MSU psychology professor Joseph Cesario says researchers analyzed statistics gathered by two newspapers, the Guardian and the Washington Post, on fatal police shootings nationwide for the study published Tuesday. 

Cesario said the numbers in fact show that it's not the race of the officer that's doing the shooting that plays a role, but where the crime occurred.

"So in counties where there was more violent crime committed by white citizens, that predicted that a white citizen was going to be shot by the police, and not that a black or a Hispanic citizen would be shot by the police," Cesario WWJ's Sandra McNeill. "In a county where you had more black violent crime, that predicted a black citizen being shot." 

Also notable in the study, Cesario said that in 90 percent of the cases the person shot was holding a gun.

"Although we pay a lot of attention, rightfully so -- I'm not says we shouldn't because they're tragic cases, really horrible cases -- we pay a lot of attention to those cases where the officers maybe made an error, or there was ambiguity or the officers could've done otherwise and they didn't, those end up being really rare."

"Data do confirm generally what officers say with respect to what police shootings are really like," Cesario added, "and what the causes of police shootings really are all about == which we found did not have to do with the officer's race, but instead related very strongly to the local crime rates."

The bad news, Cesario said, is that if race doesn't play a role that means diversifying a police force won't cut down on the number of shootings. 

Read more from the study at this link