even controlling for crime rates, income and education levels, and rates of home ownership, black and Hispanic neighborhoods in [Austin] still see a slightly higher number of use of force incidents, the new analysis found. Every 1% increase in the proportion of black residents in a neighborhood led to a 2.6% increase in use of force incidents, according to the analysis.Moreover, they reported:
In a highly segregated city such as Austin, that increase actually looks much larger when you apply it to the neighborhood level. Virtually all the neighborhoods on the city’s west side are less than 5% black, while many on the east side are closer to 60% black. Using the report’s findings, that could mean an increase in use of force of more than 140% from a typical white neighborhood to a typical black one after controlling for other variables.Statistical analyses such as this, for a variety of reasons, cannot definitively prove intentional discrimination, though to Grits' mind these data come closer than most attempts I've seen. Continued the Statesman:
The next step is to combine data about police use of force with community surveys to get a clearer picture of how police activity affects community attitudes. However, that is expensive and will require grant funding.
The Center of Policing Equity does not take money from police departments.
In future years, this will come to be non-controversial. Before Texas' racial profiling data collection bill passed in 2001, for example, it was common for law enforcement to claim that racial disparities in stops and search patterns simply did not exist, responding to all allegations of differential treatment with blanket denials that could not be proven nor dis-proven. Now, we know for certain black Texans are stopped at greater rates than they populate the driver pool, and that after the stop they're more likely to be searched and arrested, frequently for outstanding traffic warrants or other low-level offenses which landed them into what amounts to a debtors-prison situation. So the debate has moved on to WHY that happens instead of whether it does."Our hope is that we help find the grant funding to do this," Acevedo said. "Just by doing the deep dive sends a message that we care about what people think, what their feelings are and what the perceptions are and what the reality are important to us."
Debates around use of force are overdue for the same transformation. The claim that high crime rates among black folks justify using force against them more often has been made so often - in the face of a complete absence of evidence either way - that it will take a while for the truth of disparate outcomes to sink in. But the ability to base the discussion on hard facts rather than supposition is an important step forward.
As this blog has maintained for years, on a variety of issues, one cannot manage what one cannot measure.