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

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.

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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.

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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)
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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

"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.

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"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

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.

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