Blacks Likelier Than Whites, Hispanics To Get Police Threats, Use Of Force


Blacks were 2.5 times more likely than whites and 1.7 times more likely than Hispanics to be subjects of police threats or actual use of nonfatal force between 2002 and 2011, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. A new report from BJS estimated that 1.6 percent of an annual 44 million face-to-face contact between police officers and citizens. About three-quarters of those who experienced force called it excessive. The kinds of threats or uses of nonfatal force included “shouting, cursing, threatening, pushing or grabbing, hitting or kicking, using pepper spray, using an electroshock weapon, pointing a gun or using other force,” BJS said.

The data come from the BJS Police–Public Contact Survey, a sample self-report survey of U.S. residents 16 or older. They do not include data from police records. BJS called the survey the only national source of data on the use of nonfatal force and excessive force by police. Police-initiated stops accounted for a bare majority of face-to-face contacts, BJS said. Street stops (7.6 percent) were more likely than traffic stops (1.1 percent) to involve nonfatal force. Those who were hit or kicked were more likely to perceive the police action to be excessive (97 percent) compared to those who had a gun pointed at them (81 percent), were pushed or grabbed (79 percent), were threatened with force (76 percent) or were shouted or cursed at (49 percent).

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