Prentiss Riddle: Causes

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Surprise, surprise, surprise

"Blacks bear the brunt when police use force." The Austin American-Statesman analyzed 6,447 APD incident reports over six years and found that:

Austin police used force against African Americans and Hispanics at significantly higher rates than they did against whites... For Hispanics, the likelihood was 25 percent greater. For African Americans, it was 100 percent.
Downtown -- the most likely place for anyone, regardless of race, to become involved in a violent encounter with police -- officers used force against one of about every 14 blacks involved in an incident. That is based on a rate of 72.6 violent encounters for every 1,000 blacks involved in an incident. For whites, the rate was 34.6 per 1,000, about one in 29; for Hispanics, 43.7, or about one in 23.
There's a bit of good news:
Justice Department statistics showed that the national use of force rate was 11.5 for every 1,000 police contacts. Austin's rate that year was 2.1 per thousand. Overall in the past six years, the Austin rate was 4.9 per thousand.

So the bottom line seems to be that Austin police make less use of force than those in other cities, but there's still a significant risk to being DWB (Downtown While Black).

Kudos to the Statesman for doing some unusually forthright investigation and splashing it across the front page. (And a rude gesture to the Statesman for imposing a new multi-step registration procedure in order to read their content online, even today's top stories!)

causes 2004.01.25 link