[LMB] OT: Racial disparities in policing

Luke Bretscher rocketman0739 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 10 16:33:48 GMT 2019

> From: Matthew George <matt.msg at gmail.com>
> Sent: Monday, December 9, 2019 5:17:10 PM
> To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold. <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk>
> Subject: [LMB] OT: Racial disparities in policing
> Before we conclude that prejudice makes police stop young black men more
> often (and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if that were the case), we need
> to exclude alternative explanations.  Such as the possibility that young
> black men drive in a manner that tends to attract police attention.

That idea could in theory cover the facts, but it has been shown not
to. A large study found that black drivers were significantly more
likely than white drivers to be pulled over in the daytime, but that
discrepancy dropped after dark--when police couldn't see the drivers'
race. Moreover, the police were _more_ likely to find drugs or other
contraband in the cars of white drivers, even though the black drivers
were stopped more often. Or, quite probably, _because_ black drivers
were stopped more often: if you pull over a bunch of innocent black
drivers, the percentage of stops that find drugs will go down, even if
white and black drivers carry drugs at the same rate.


> I seem
> to recall some studies that indicated that black police stopped black
> drivers more frequently, which would seem to make attributing the behavior
> to racial animus rather problematic.
> Matt G.

It would be too simplistic to attribute the overall racism shown by
the policing system in general to racial animus on the part of each
individual officer who enforces it. The psychology of the job is to
divide the population into three groups: Innocent Civilians, Bad Guys,
and Heroic Police. The role of the Heroic Police is to crack down on
the Bad Guys and protect the Innocent Civilians. Though there are some
openly racist police, the larger problem is that the police are
indoctrinated to mentally classify non-police as either Innocent
Civilians or Bad Guys. Racist stereotypes, gang activities, and real
economic differences all make it more likely that a police officer
will subconsciously classify a black person (especially a lower-class
black man) as a Bad Guy. The police officer may be non-racist in his
conscious consideration, or even black himself, but if he allows
himself to make such assumptions, he still perpetuates a racist

On Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 8:47 AM WILLIAM A WENRICH <wawenri at msn.com> wrote:
> In my concealed carry class we were taught to remain seated with our hands on the
> wheel and not go fumbling around for our license or registration. If you have a weapon,
> and you need to reach close to it, inform the officer first (some states require you to
> inform the police immediately on being stopped).

I'm sure that works for you. But Philando Castile followed all the
rules and was still shot dead. This was almost certainly because the
police officer subconsciously classified Castile as a Bad Guy on
account of being black.


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