I started writing this last night, but actually went to sleep instead of starting a thread (imagine that!). I guess I was just waiting to show it to you, berdollos.
Growing up as I did in the inner city and being (what I consider) quite pragmatic, I have always been on the “police” side of this argument. I always maintained that the police have one of the hardest jobs imaginable. That they see the worst of society and so come to believe the worst from society. I also have argued with many a minority that if you believe the police are out to get you, then it would be prudent not to break the law.
All these real life discussions took place with the assumption that the police are biased against minorities. But here, at the SDMB, assumptions were made to be challenged.
Inthis thread it was brought to my attention that when minorities are stopped by police they always assumed that they were stopped because they were minorities.
In this thread it was postulated that the reasons blacks in particular are shot more often by police is because blacks are responsible for almost half of all violent crimes in the USA.
The FBI says that 40% of the people arrested for violent crimes in this country are black. (Note, the statistics are for people arrested for violent crimes. Nowhere does the FBI state that this 40% is for all violent crimes committed in the US.) and the DoJ states that 16% of the black population in the US will go to jail. Let’s think about this. .2% of the population is responsible for 40% of all the violent crime in America?
Do these numbers vindicate the police or point to the bias of the justice system?
Thinking that statistics that show the percentages of people detained by police would put these numbers in context, I searched for, but could not find, any municipalities that released such numbers (although two counties in Pennsylvania are starting projects to do just this) but with the recent brouhaha over racial profiling on the highways, I was able to find some numbers.
The ACLU did a traffic study in Maryland. There findings? The percentage of traffic violators by race was 74.4% white. This is understandable since 75.6% of all drivers were white. 21.1% of all were minority accounting for 21.8% of the violations observed. However 80% of all drivers stopped by the Maryland State Troopers were minority. I wonder what the percentage of minorities arrested for traffic offenses is in Maryland as compared to whites?
From John Derbyshire from the National Review: *The New York Times Magazine in June 1999, Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Bernard Parks, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. Parks, who is black, asked rhetorically of racial profiling: “Should we play the percentages?…It’s common sense.” *
With those percentages on your side, how can you lose? Also from Mr. Derbyshire: “Unfortunately, a negative stereotype can be correct, and even useful.”
Useful to what purpose?