You’ve heard policing in America is systemically racist. You’ve heard it from the President, you’ve heard it from the Co-President, and from every single person in the establishment media.
It is a lie.
It’s pretty amazing how people thought, “oh, body cam footage will solve all the problems, because why shouldn’t we see what cops do?” But there are cases where the body cam footage is bad for the cop just because people don’t understand what cops do on a daily basis. You think the cops are like Jerry Orbach in “Law and Order.” It’s not the way that works.
Yes, the police arrest black Americans at higher rates than white Americans. They also arrest white Americans at a higher rate than Asian-Americans. The question isn’t what proportion of the population is arrested. The question is whether the police are targeting a population by race for arrest.
If the police are merely arresting people who commit crimes, and the crimes are committed disproportionately by race, that is not the police’s fault. That’s the police doing their job.
Just before President Biden’s inauguration, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics issued a report designed to answer whether the police were arresting people at disproportionate rates based on crime reports. If 20 out of 100 crime reports named a black suspect but 60% of police arrests were of black suspects, for example, that would be presumptively discriminatory. If 60 out of 100 crime reports named a black suspect and 60% of police arrests were of black suspects, that would be the police doing their job.
The report concluded — according to the Wall Street Journal — that “there was no statistically significant difference by race between how likely people were to commit serious violent crimes and how likely they were to be arrested.”
In other words, the data suggested that police officers and sheriffs’ deputies focus on criminals’ actions, not their race. The report compared arrest statistics with victims’ reports and found no statistically significant difference. For nonfatal violent crimes, for example, 35% of reported offenders were black; 33% of arrests were black Americans.
This does not look like systemic racism.
How about police shootings? Are the cops routinely gunning down black Americans as they just live their lives, as LeBron James suggests?
As Heather McDonald reports, in 2019, police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year — 235, a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects.
In 2018 — the latest year for which such data has been published — African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and committed about 60% of robberies, although they were 13% of the population. Police officers are 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by the police.
In August 2019, the National Academy of Sciences published research showing that there was “no significant evidence of anti-black disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by police.”
Actually, police are less likely to kill black people than white people in the same circumstances, according to Professor Peter Moskos of John Jay College of Criminal Justice at CUNY. Moskos found that adjusted for the homicide rate, whites are 1.7 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police. Adjusted for the racial disparity at which police are feloniously killed, whites are 1.3 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police.
Disparities in arrest statistics between black and white have been reflective of differential crime rates for decades. As Barry Latzer reports, “from 1976 to 1995, blacks were identified by police as the perpetrators of more than half of homicides.” From 2000 to 2014, African-Americans were murdered eight times as often as whites per capita, nearly always as a result of black-on-black assaults. 57% of blacks in state prison were convicted of violent crimes.
More blacks and Hispanics are in prison proportionately because more blacks and Hispanics commit serious crimes proportionately. The notion that blacks and Hispanics are being disproportionately targeted in spite of offense rates is a lie. As early as 1994, the Justice Department under Bill Clinton found that blacks had a lower chance of prosecution than whites in 75 major American cities.
By attempting to castigate the police as the real problem in black America as opposed to criminality, by putting the blame on a system when individuals commit crimes, you are depriving black Americans of agency. You are suggesting that when they commit crimes, they are not responsible for those crimes because the system itself is responsible.
You are making life worse by telling individuals in the freest system in world history that they are not responsible for their own decisions and, no matter what kind of great decisions they make in their life, they can never get ahead.
And that is an abject lie.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.