The poisonous lie of racist policing

It isn’t fun to keep addressing claims that policing in America is racist. But the left keeps peddling this lie, and Democratic presidential candidates have joined in, so I feel the need to keep countering it.

Fortunately, Heather Mac Donald does the heavy lifting. I just have to link to her articles and do a little summarizing.

Heather’s latest is called “Why ‘policing is racist’ is such a poisonous lie.” She informs us:

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesz demolishes the Democratic narrative regarding race and police shootings. It turns out that white officers are no more likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot black civilians. It is a racial group’s rate of violent crime that determines police shootings, not the race of the officer. The more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the greater the chance that members of that racial group will be shot by a police officer.

That’s a reality so obvious even a rational leftist should grasp it. Unfortunately, rational leftists are in short supply.

Once crime rates are taken into account, the study cited above shows that if there is any bias in police shootings, it is against white civilians. Certainly, there is no bias against blacks.

According to Heather, earlier studies have also disproved the claim of racial bias by white officers in police shooting. Yet, the Black Lives Matter lie to the contrary won’t die. Instead, it has gained support from the likes of Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and especially the God-awful Beto O’Rourke, who claims that police shoot blacks “solely based on the color of their skin.”

Actually, there is a growing problem in policing, but not the one BLM and the Democratic Party are asserting. The real problem is a lowering of the quality of police officers due to the left’s insistence that departments lower standards to achieve racial balance. Heather explains:

Departments [have] been deemphasizing written exams or eliminating requirements that recruits have a clean criminal record. . .The Baltimore Police Department changed its qualifying exam to such an extent that the director of legal instruction in the Baltimore Police Academy complained in 2018 that rookie officers were being let out onto the street with little understanding of the law.

[Joe] Biden’s plan would require police hiring to “mirror the racial diversity” of the community as a precondition of federal funding. This effort to increase minority representation won’t reduce racial disparities in shootings, concludes the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study, since white officers aren’t responsible for those disparities; black crime rates are.

Moreover, lowered hiring standards risk bad police work and corruption. A 2015 Justice Department study of the Philadelphia Police Department found that black officers were 67 percent more likely than white officers to mistakenly shoot an unarmed black suspect; Hispanic officers were 145 percent more likely than white officers to mistakenly shoot an unarmed black suspect. Whether lowered hiring standards are responsible for those disparities wasn’t addressed.

It seems likely that lower standards are responsible. The alternative explanation — that black and Hispanic officers with qualifications and test scores comparable to white officers are screwing up in disproportionate numbers — seems unlikely and possibly racist.

In any event, the “policing is racist” claim is poisonous, indeed. As Heather concludes:

It exacerbates anti-cop tensions in minority communities and makes cops less willing to engage in the proactive policing that can save lives. Last month, viral videos of pedestrians in Harlem, The Bronx and Brooklyn pouring water on passive NYPD officers showed that anti-police hostility in the inner city remains at dangerous levels.

The anti-cop narrative deflects attention away from the real criminal-justice problem, which is high rates of black-on-black victimization. Blacks die of homicide at eight times the rate of non-Hispanic whites, overwhelmingly killed not by cops, not by whites, but by other blacks.

Democratic candidates should get their facts straight and address that issue. Until they do, their talk of racial justice will ring hollow.

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