Police Shootings by State v. Percent of the Population that is Black

July 21, 2017
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Police Shootings by State v. Percent of the Population that is Black

After my recent post on police shootings I was curious and did some googling on the topic. By coincidence, right about that time Peter Moskos (i.e., Cop in the Hood) wrote this:

I looked at the Washington Post data of those shot and killed by police in 2015 and 2016 and broke it down by states with more and fewer African-Americans. States that are more than 10 percent African American include 21 states plus D.C. (198 million people, 18 percent black, 36 million blacks). There are 29 states less than 10 percent African American (126 million people, 6 percent black, 7 million blacks).

Killed by Police v. Black Share of the Population

People, all people, are 1.6 times more likely, per capita, to be shot and killed by police in states that are less than 10 percent black compared to states more than 10 percent African American. Blacks are still more likely than whites, per capita to be shot overall. But this ratio (2.6:1) doesn’t change significantly based on how black a state is.

For both whites and blacks, the likelihood of being shot by police is greater in states with fewer blacks. And the difference is rather large. There are seven states less than two percent black. In 2015 and 2016, zero blacks were shot and killed in Maine, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. But if you think cops don’t shoot people in these states, you’re wrong. Compared to the four states with the highest percentage of African-American (Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Maryland are more than 30 percent black), the overall rate of police-involved killings in states with few blacks is higher. And this is despite a lower rate of overall violence.

There’s more at the link, including his data. I haven’t had an opportunity to go through the numbers, but I am not seeing a reason to disbelieve them offhand. I have a couple of theories (which are not entirely unrelated to each other) as to what is going on, but I’m curious about what readers think.

As an aside… regular readers may recall my earlier look at Washington Post data on police killings which led me to conclude one or two things that don’t fit the narrative the media, to include the Washington Post, seems to like to support.

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