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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Data and Ferguson

Max Ehrenfreund writes at The Washington Post:
 How frequently do police officers shoot unarmed civilians?
Headlines about police shootings are frequent. Over the weekend, for example, police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy carrying a BB gun in Cleveland.
But this is another hard question to answer. There is no comprehensive database on officer-involved shootings, although the federal government collects data on all kinds of crimes.
Also at The Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee examines claims about race and homicide:
[A BJS] report found most murders were intraracial, committed by friends or acquaintances of the victim. Stranger homicides were more likely to be interracial, with a lower rate of white-on-black murders than black-on-white murders.
The 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report, a compilation of annual crime statistics, also shows similar data: 83 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders; 90 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders; 14 percent of white victims were killed by black offenders; and 7.6 percent of black victims were killed by white offenders.
It is true that the rate of black homicide victims and offenders were disproportionately represented compared to the general population, the 2011 BJS report found. The black victimization rate (27.8 per 100,000) was six times higher than the white victimization rate (4.5 per 100,000). Black offending rate (34.4 per 100,000) was almost eight times higher than whites (4.5 per 100,000), according to the report.