A new study has found that white Dallas police officers do not disproportionately use force against minorities, contrary to common public perceptions that they target people based on race, reports the Dallas Morning News. When circumstances such as drug or alcohol use and the officer’s tenure are taken into account, differences in use of force between races fade away, according to peer-reviewed findings published in the American Journal of Public Health this week. Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas School of Public Health and the University of South Florida analyzed 5,630 use-of-force reports filed by Dallas officers in 2014 and 2015 to see whether the data supports a common view that white officers target minorities.
“We now know that the differences that a lot of people think exist because of these horrific events that we see on TV, video footage, that’s not the norm,” said Alex Piquero, a University of Texas-Dallas criminology professor who was on the research team. Dallas police responded to about 1.2 million calls in 2014 and 2015. The majority of those calls didn’t result in use of force. Last year, the Dallas department was about 50 percent white, 26 percent black and 21 percent Hispanic. In 2014 and 2015, white officers reported using force more often than their peers. About 48 percent of the reports were about white officers using force against someone who wasn’t white. In comparison, only 3 percent of black officers used force against someone who is white. Piquero said the data shows there weren’t many racial or ethnic differences for officers’ use of force on civilians once the context of the cases was taken into account. Nearly half of the people whom officers used force against were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example.