SADOW: The Data Doesn’t Suggest Racism Among Louisiana Cops

Louisianans, don’t be fooled by the latest attempt to mutate fiction into fact in a long-running battle to shape public policy around a presumption of “systemic racism.”

Especially this being an election year, mainstream media and their liberal political allies have intensified their old habit of flogging this idea when able to find an incident they can shape to support it. Recently, this has come in the form of black crime suspects dying incident to arrests with white police officers involved. Reporting that has sensationalized such events in Louisiana spurred policy-makers invested in the narrative to succeed in formation of a legislative panel to address policing.

Meeting last week, legislators heard from proponents of the narrative. A functionary from the Louisiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Advocacy Director Chris Klein, testified that in state blacks represent 53 percent of those killed by police even though they comprise 32 percent of the state’s population. “There are some trends that are not in dispute,” he said. “There are very real trends that create stark disparities in Louisiana.”

Indeed, and let’s start with the one he didn’t mention. In 2018, blacks make up 32 percent of Louisiana’s population but are 64 percent of the arrestee population (reported from two-thirds of all state law enforcement agencies). Not all who get arrested are convicted of a crime, but likely the proportions by race of those convicted isn’t far off. Which means that in Louisiana black suspects are proportionally less likely to be killed by law enforcement than those of other races.

This is consistent with the idea that white police officers are less likely to shoot black suspects out of concern they will face overly-intense scrutiny of such an act. That concern must magnify as the issue now has become so politicized that academicians retract their research on this matter, even if they express confidence in their data and analysis, if they think it can be used to confirm that very point.

So, in order to get around this inconvenient fact, you would have to buy the argument that racism so permeates America and Louisiana that law enforcement officers – white and black and anything else – arrest huge numbers of blacks they know are innocent of crimes against people and/or let off numerous whites they discover committing those same crimes. Not only on face does this make no sense, but data contradict that as well.

Again, the notion that government policy supports an institutionalization of racism in society, and especially that this reflects in police treatment of black citizens, is a disingenuous canard, yet too many institutions in America propagate the notion uncritically. Any institution, including government down to law enforcement agencies, will have individual rogue racists that it must try to prevent from abusing citizen trust, but any insinuation that racism permeates the operations and interactions of those agencies as a whole lacks empirical support and distracts rather than contributes to the policy debate over improving policing performance.



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