Purpose: The current study examined racial/ethnic disparities in officer-involved shootings, employing violence directed toward police by race/ethnicity as a benchmark for comparison. Methods: Odds ratios comparing white and African-American as well as white and Hispanic differences were calculated using three separate datasets: The Washington Post's counts of fatal officer-involved shootings, fatal and injurious officer-involved shootings in Texas, and all firearm discharges by officers in California. Results: African-Americans were not more likely than whites to be fatally shot nationally or shot and injured/killed by police in Texas based on the benchmarks used. However, African-Americans were more likely than whites to be shot at by California police. Conclusions: Racial/ethnic overrepresentation (or the lack thereof) in officer-involved shootings appears to be a function of the specific benchmark for comparison as well as the outcome being examined. Studies focusing exclusively on fatalities represent an incomplete and non-random sample of all officer-involved shooting incidents. Data limitations may omit factors, such as place or departmental policies, that are cofounding the relationship between race/ethnicity and fatal police-citizen violence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Applied Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science