View our repository of studies finding no racial bias in police killings.
A 2018 paper by Steven Mello of Princeton University found that each additional sworn police officer is associated with 4.27 fewer violent crimes and 15.39 fewer property crimes.
In 2019, blacks were killed by police at over twice the rate of whites.
In the same year, black Americans committed violent crime at a rate disproportionate to their share of the population:
One might ask: are higher arrest rates the result of police bias?
Academics have found that the proportion of black suspects arrested by the police tends to mirror the proportion of offenders identified as black by victims in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), a survey conducted by the Census Bureau.
This does not support the notion that police are unfairly discriminating against blacks when they make arrests.
A 2020 review of San Diego data found that blacks were 10 times more likely than whites to be arrested for resisting, delaying, or obstructing a police officer.
A 2015 analysis of San Francisco data found that African Americans were cited for resisting arrest at a rate eight times greater than whites.
In 2019, 26 unarmed whites and 12 unarmed blacks were fatally shot by police.
By contrast, there were 7,484 black victims of murder in 2019.
In other words, those 12 unarmed black victims of police shootings accounted for about 0.2% of all blacks killed in 2019.
Despite constant media coverage of police-on-black killings, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.
A 2020 paper coauthored by Harvard economists Roland Fryer and Tanaya Devi estimates that investigations into “viral” incidents of deadly force, including the Michael Brown incident, caused almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies.
"The leading hypothesis for why these investigations increase homicides and total crime is an abrupt change in the quantity of policing activity. In Chicago, the number of police-civilian interactions decreased by almost 90% in the month after the investigation was announced. In Riverside CA, interactions decreased 54%. In St. Louis, self-initiated police activities declined by 46%," the paper says.
About 1,000 people, most of them armed, are shot and killed by police each year.
A thousand deaths per year seems high and even one needless death is a tragedy, but it is important to consider this number in the context of:
If the average person has a reason to worry about getting shot by police (who fatally shoot 1,000 people per year), then he should be terrified of:
A 2019 report analyzed Taser use data from some of the largest police departments in the nation and found that police officers “rate their Tasers as effective as little as 55 percent of the time, or just a little better than a coin flip.”