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Racial Disparities in Police Crime Victimization

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Date Published

The focus of our research is on police crime—a particular form of police misconduct that involves the criminal arrest of police officers.


Our work is designed to identify cases in which law enforcement officers have been arrested for any type of criminal offense(s). Policing has become a topic of intense public scrutiny and protest in the aftermath of several recent highly questionable and violent police–citizen encounters including the acts of police violence against George Floyd in Minneapolis (MN), Breonna Taylor in Louisville (KY), and Jacob Blake in Kenosha (WI). These encounters have led to large-scale street protests, the legitimization of the Black Lives Matter movement, and what many commentators perceive as a “national reckoning” on the issue of racial justice. Our work is designed to identify cases in which law enforcement officers have been arrested for any type of criminal offense(s). One area of police scholarship that has thus far been neglected is the relationship between citizen race and the perpetration of police crime. We are aware of no existing empirical studies on whether, and if so, to what degree, citizen race is associated with crimes committed by police officers. The public has been forced to re-examine and question the role and legitimacy of police against the backdrop of protests and concerns about how police may contribute to racial injustice and discrimination. The broadest research issue involved an examination of the association between police crime and the race of the victim. Our goal was to identify and examine any racial disparities of police crime overall and within specific types of police crime. The analyses compared police crimes committed against Black victims to all other police crimes identified within the dataset. More specifically, we examined the degree to which police crimes perpetrated against Black victims tend to be more violent than those perpetrated against non-Black victims. CHAID regression models were utilized to explore any multivariate relationships between race and police crime. Data were derived from published news articles using the Google News search engine and its Google Alerts email update service. Our database currently includes information on more than 18,700 cases of police crime from years 2005–2021. The study utilized data derived from this larger project. The study examined those cases of police crime in which we have identified a victim and recorded information on the race of the victim. The dataset for this study includes information on 865 criminal arrest cases of sworn nonfederal law enforcement officers within the United States from 2005 through 2014. (Publisher Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2021