Black people more likely to be stopped by cops, study finds

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

U.S. Police Departments, Big and Small, Struggling to Find Recruits

Black people are more likely to be stopped by police but — once they are stopped — they are less likely to be shot than whites, new research finds.

The study could not say whether blacks, Hispanics and American Indians are more likely to commit crimes and thus be arrested, but they are more likely to be arrested once stopped, the research finds.

The study doesn't claim to be the last word on whether police are unfairly targeting blacks, but does shed some light on an issue that's been made volatile in recent months with cellphone videos that show upsetting incidents, said Ted Miller of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland, who led the study.

"I wanted to better inform the discussion," said Miller, an economist specializing in public health.

Related: Police Shoot Unarmed Caregiver With His Hands Up

His team pulled together statistics from wherever they could find them: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FBI, state police websites, hospital records and two investigative series by the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers.

"U.S. police killed or injured an estimated 55,400 people in 2012," they wrote in the journal Injury Prevention.

"Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics had higher stop/arrest rates per 10,000 population than white non-Hispanics and Asians."

Rates are important because they take into account each group's proportion of the population. Blacks make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for 28 percent of arrests.

RELATED: Most iconic photos of the Black Lives Matter movement

22 PHOTOS
Most iconic photos of Black Lives Matter movement since Ferguson
See Gallery
Most iconic photos of Black Lives Matter movement since Ferguson
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Tear gas rains down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air after a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his August 9, death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 11: Police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown who was killed Saturday in this suburban St. Louis community. Yesterday 32 arrests were made after protests turned into rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: A demonstrator protesting the killings of 18-year-olds Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri Police officer and Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer gets help after being maced by police on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted in suburban Ferguson following Brown's death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 3: A demonstrator cries while gathering in Philadelphia to protest the Eric Garner grand jury decision during a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at City Hall December 3, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Organizers called for the demonstration after a grand jury in the Staten Island borough of New York City declined to indict the police officer who used a chokehold on Garner, resulting in his death. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: Police confront demonstrators during a protest on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Yesterday protesting turned into rioting following the grand jury announcement to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Neal Blair, of Augusta, Ga., stands on the lawn of the Capitol building during a rally to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, on Capitol Hill, on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Washington. Thousands of African-Americans crowded on the National Mall Saturday for the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Black Lives Matter supporters embrace after Minneapolis police poured water to extinguish an encampment fire as they continued their protest, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, outside the Fourth Precinct in Minneapolis. The fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man by a Minneapolis police officer, has pushed racial tensions in the city's small but concentrated minority community to the fore, with the police precinct besieged by a makeshift encampment and many protesters. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
A spray painted message of âBlack Lives Matterâ was painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., Thursday, June 25, 2015. The vandalism comes after a mass shooting in Charleston South Carolina has sparked a nationwide debate on the public display of Confederate imagery. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
FILE - In this March 12, 2015 file photo, police shine a light on a helmet as they investigate the scene where two police officers were shot outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo. The one year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, which sparked months of nationwide protests and launched the "Black Lives Matter" movement, is on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2014 file photo taken with a long exposure, protesters march in the street as lightning flashes in the distance in Ferguson, Mo. The one year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, which sparked months of nationwide protests and launched the "Black Lives Matter" movement, is on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
A protester has some words with Minneapolis police officers on bikes as a Black Lives Matter protest continued, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, at the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct in Minneapolis. It was the fourth day of protests of the killing of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson leaves the Baton Rouge jail in Baton Rouge, La. on Sunday, July 10, 2016. McKesson, three journalists and more than 120 other people were taken into custody in Louisiana over the past two days, authorities said Sunday, after protests over the fatal shooting of an African-American man by two white police officers in Baton Rouge. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Jamine Clark points to the name of his brother, Jamar Clark, on an upside-down flag bearing names of people killed at the hands of police outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter demonstrators have set up an encampment at the precinct which is near the site of the Sunday shooting of Jamar Clark by a Minneapolis police officer. Clark has been taken off life support. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - DECEMBER 20: Thousands of protesters from the group 'Black Lives Matter' disrupt holiday shoppers on December 20, 2014 at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2014 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James wears a T-shirt reading "I Can't Breathe," during warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in New York. Celebrities have long played a significant role in social change, from Harry Belafonte marching for civil rights to Muhammad Aliâs anti-war activism. James and other basketball stars made news in 2014 when they wore T-shirts to protest the death of Eric Garner. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
A demonstrator chants during a rally in downtown Manhattan in New York, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, during the Justice for All rally and march. In the past three weeks, grand juries have decided not to indict officers in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The decisions have unleashed demonstrations and questions about police conduct and whether local prosecutors are the best choice for investigating police. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Parents of Michael Brown, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden listen to a speaker during a rally, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for their son who was killed by police last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. Brown's shooting in the middle of a street, following a suspected robbery of a box of cigars from a nearby market, has sparked a week of protests, riots and looting in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A police officer stands over activists, demanding justice for the death of Eric Garner, as they stage a 'die-in' during rush hour at Grand Central Terminal in the Manhattan borough of New York on December 3, 2014. A New York City grand jury on Wednesday returned no indictment against a white police officer who used a chokehold on an unarmed black man who died as police tried to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes, local media reported. The grand jury in the city's borough of Staten Island decided against criminal charges for New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. The deadly encounter on July 17 was captured on a video that quickly spread over the Internet and helped fuel debates about how U.S. police use force, particularly against minorities. REUTERS/Adrees Latif (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TRANSPORT)
A man protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Pastor Charles Burton lies on the driveway at the Ferguson, Mo., police station as a chalk drawing is made as a memorial to Michael Brown, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Activists planned a day of civil disobedience to protest Brown's shooting in August and a second police shooting in St. Louis last week. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"Those with the highest arrest rates per 10,000 population were ages 15-29 years, black or Native American," the team wrote.

There are many violent interactions, Miller found.

"On an average day, three people die and 150 people are treated at a hospital because they are injured by police," Miller told NBC News.

Related: Michael Jordan Speaks Out on Race Issues

"During 2012 an estimated 67,000 law enforcement personnel were assaulted, with an estimated 18,600 medically treated for injury and 48 killed."

But once they stopped someone, police were just as likely to hurt or injure whites as people of any other race, they found.

"Blacks have high arrest and stop rates, and per capita [among the general population] are much more likely than whites to die at the hands of police," the team found.

"However, when blacks are stopped or arrested, they are no more likely than whites to be injured or die during that incident."

Other research supports this.

RELATED: Percent saying blacks are treated less fairly than whites

"Consistent with our findings, simulation studies find police are no more likely to fire on unarmed blacks than unarmed whites, and high rates of black speeding citations per capita result from high violation rates," the team wrote,.

"A systematic review identified 10 studies that found suspect race/ethnicity did not predict use of force or its escalation."

So now the important question to answer will be whether that increased rate of stop and arrest is unfair or biased, Miller said. He was not able to find out if police were more likely to stop blacks for trivial reasons — although they were more likely to let whites go once stopped.

"We know that low-income neighborhoods have more crime," Miller said. And minorities are more likely to have low incomes. "Some disparities could be due to income rather than race," he said.

And it could be that fear of police violence has caused blacks to be more polite than whites in their interactions.

Related: African-American Cops React to Violence

"Frequent police stops of young men have caused many black and some Hispanic mothers to teach their sons where to put their hands if approached by an officer, how to move and not move, to ask permission before reaching for their wallet, and to respond to police rudeness with respect," the team wrote.

"Those talks may have protective effects."

There's another factor. "Most of the people who die had a gun with them," Miller said. He compared the U.S. situation to Australia, where just as many people are injured, but fewer are shot to death in police stops. Australia has much stricter laws on carrying guns than the U.S. has.

"Police aren't as scared. The police are not as endangered," he said.

RELATED: Poll - Police use of deadly force

But Miller said the statistics show that there is far too much violence when police stop Americans in general, and he said it's up to police to do something about that.

"You and I might get stopped once in our lives. The police stop people every day. They need to be the ones trained to de-escalate," he said.

It's important for people not to make police angry, but it's also important for police to control their emotions, Miller said.

"The question is how to make the system forgiving enough so that when somebody makes a mistake, everybody lives," he said.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners