May 8, 2021 07:32

National Police Slowdowns And Other Myths Debunked Per The USDOJ

Highlights

The data below is based on what citizens interacting with police tell researchers about their experience from 2015-2018.

Contrary to critics, there was no statistically significant difference in the percentage of Whites (12%) and Blacks (11%) who experienced a police-initiated contact.

There were 19,216,000 police-initiated contacts with Whites, 3,394,000 police-initiated contacts with Blacks, and 4,222,000 police-initiated contacts with Hispanics.

Contrary to media reports of a national police slowdown, police-initiated contacts increased from 27,416,000 to 28,881,000. Police-initiated street stops increased, 2,504,000-3,528,000.

Some media commentators suggest that police use of force is growing/common/frequent during stops. Less than 3% of U.S. residents experienced a threat “or” use of force during their most recent police-initiated contact.

Contrary to media reports, the use of force decreased for police-initiated contacts from 3.3 to 2.8 percent.

Contrary to critics, police-initiated arrests decreased considerably, 815,000 in 2015-386,000 in 2018.

There are suggestions that public confidence and a willingness to interact with law enforcement declined. Contact with law enforcement increased, 53,496,000 in 2015-61,542,000 in 2018. Most of this was resident-initiated (27,060,000 in 2015-35,468,000 in 2018).

The lowest and highest income household incomes had the same amount of police-initiated contact (11.4-11.5 percent), thus contradicting those who argue that proactive police contact is directed solely towards low-income communities.

Most previous studies of police-citizen contacts (bottom of the article) gave law enforcement favorable marks.

The bottom line is that much said as commentary or in media reports about law enforcement is factually incorrect.

Article

In December 2020, the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice provided an overview of people having contact with police officers from 2015 to 2018.

61.5 million US residents had at least one contact with police in 2018.

Summations and links to similar reports are included at the end of this article.

Note that I interspersed Bureau of Justice Statistics verbiage with my own comments.

Because Bureau of Justice Statistics data can be difficult to read, emphasis is added to bring focus to unique terms.

As readers are aware, police actions and tactics have been in the news and have influenced elections, thus police-initiated contacts are given emphasis.

I did not include the footnotes to the tables below. Please see the document (link below) for a full explanation.

Background And Context-Crime And Fear Increases

Violent crime increased by 28 percent since 2015 per the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Serious violent crime also increased. Per Gallup, violent crime tripled. Fear of crime is at record highs, see US Crime Rates. This may be a partial reason for the increase of resident-initiated police contacts.

Police-Public Contact Survey-Overview

Findings described in this report are based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2018 Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS), a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The Bureau of Justice Statistics is a research agency within the US Department of Justice.

The NCVS collects information from a nationally representative sample of persons age 12 or older in U.S. households. The PPCS collects information on contact with police during the prior 12 months from persons age 16 or older.

U.S. residents were asked about instances where they sought help from police (resident-initiated contacts) and when police approached or stopped them (police-initiated contacts).

Resident initiated contacts with police include reporting a crime, disturbance, or suspicious activity; reporting a non-crime emergency such as a medical emergency; reporting a non-emergency such as asking for directions; participating in a block watch or other anti-crime program; or approaching or seeking help from police for another reason.

Police-initiated contacts include being stopped by police while in a public place or a parked vehicle (i.e., a street stop), being stopped by police while driving a motor vehicle (i.e., a traffic stop), riding as a passenger in a car that was stopped by police, being arrested, or being stopped or approached by police for some other reason. The PPCS also collected data on contacts resulting from a traffic accident.

Summation

In the prior 12 months, as of 2018, among persons age 16 or older:

Twenty-four percent of residents experienced contact with police, up from 21% in 2015.

Whites (26%) were more likely than blacks (21%), Hispanics (19%), or persons of other races (20%) to experience police contact.

There was no statistically significant difference in the percentage of Whites (12%) and Blacks (11%) who experienced police-initiated contact.

Persons ages 18 to 24 were most likely to have any contact with police (30%) and to experience police-initiated contact (19%).

A higher percentage of Blacks (4%) and Hispanics (3%) than Whites (2%) or other races (2%) experienced threats or use of force.

Males (3%) were more likely than females (1%) to experience threats or use of force.

Four percent of Blacks and 4% of Hispanics reported being handcuffed during their most recent contact with police, compared to 2% of whites and 2% of other races.

There were 19,216,000 police-initiated contacts with Whites, 3,394,000 police-initiated contacts with Blacks, and 4,222,000 police-initiated contacts with Hispanics.

There is considerable consistency regarding police-initiated contacts and household income. The lowest and highest income household incomes had the same amount of police-initiated contact (11.4-11.5 percent).

Table One-Police Contact By Demographics-2018

Police Contact By Group
Police Contact By Group

Table Two-Reasons For Contact-2015-2018

Contact with law enforcement increased, 53,496,000-61,542,000.

Reporting of crimes increased. Editor’s note, this conflicts somewhat with the Bureau Of Justice Statistics annual reports on crime.

Reporting of non-crime emergencies increased.

Block watch contacts decreased.

Police initiated contacts increased from 27, 416,000 to 28,881,000.

Police-initiated traffic stops decreased. Editor’s note, not surprising due to a focus on rising violent crime.

Police initiated street stops increased, 2,504,000-3,528,000.

Police-initiated arrests decreased, 815,000-386,000. Editor’s note, not surprising due to previous data showing a decrease in arrests. Being this is based on citizen reports, I assume that law enforcement is being more judicious in their choice of actions, plus it keeps officers on the street for longer periods of time.

Reasons For Police Contact
Reasons For Police Contact

Table Three-Police Use Of Threats or Force-Demographics-2015-2018

The percentage of threats or use of force increased slightly from 2015-2018, 1.8 percent-2.0 percent. Editor’s note, this correlates with increased police-initiated activity.

In 2018, Whites (1.5 percent) experienced threats or use of force, Blacks (3.8 percent) experienced threats or use of force, Hispanics (3.4 percent) experienced threats or use of force.

Males and the 25-44 age group experienced the greatest number of threats or use of force.

Police Use Of Force-Demographics
Police Use Of Force-Demographics

Table Four-Use Of Force-2015-2018

2.8 percent of U.S. residents experienced a threat “or” use of force during their most recent police-initiated contact in 2018.

The use of force decreased for police-initiated contacts from 3.3 to 2.8 percent.

Males (4%) were more likely than females (1%) to experience force during their most recent police-initiated contact.

Of residents who experienced a threat or use of force during their most recent police-initiated contact (2.8 percent), about 28% felt that the action was necessary, while 51% felt it was excessive.

Whites (32%) were more likely than Hispanics (17%) to view the threat or use of force during their most recent contact as necessary.

Whites who experienced a threat or use of force were less likely than Blacks to perceive it as excessive (44% to 63%).

Persons ages 18 to 24 who experienced a threat or use of force were less likely (16%) than persons ages 25 to 44 (31%) and 45 to 64 (34%) to view the force as necessary.

The use of threats or force from 2015-2018 decreased for Whites (2.4 percent to 2.0 percent), was essentially the same for Blacks (5.2 percent to 5.3 percent), and dropped for Hispanics (5.1 percent-4.8 percent).

Police Use Of Force
Police Use Of Force

Table Five-Use of Force Used-2018

For police-initiated contacts, the threat of force was highest for Blacks (2.0 percent), handcuffing was highest for Blacks (4.4 percent), use of force was highest for Blacks (1.6 percent) and pointing-shooting a gun was highest for Blacks (0.8 percent).

Police Use Of Force By Type
Police Use Of Force By Type

Additional Data-Eighty-Six Percent Said They Were Treated With Respect

When asked whether they want the police to spend more time, the same amount of time or less time than they currently do in their area, most Black Americans — 61% — want the police presence to remain the same. This is similar to the 67% of all U.S. adults preferring the status quo, including 71% of White Americans.

Meanwhile, nearly equal proportions of Black Americans say they would like the police to spend more time in their area (20%) as say they’d like them to spend less time there (19%).

Fewer than one in five Black Americans feel very confident that the police in their area would treat them with courtesy and respect. While similar to the 24% of Asian Americans saying the same, it is markedly lower than the 40% of Hispanic Americans and 56% of White Americans who feel this way, Gallup.

Based on a June 23-July 6 2020 Gallup survey, seventy-five percent of respondents said that their police interaction was a positive experience including most Hispanic and Black individuals polled. Eighty-six percent of respondents said that they were treated with respect including most Hispanic and Black individuals polled. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they were treated fairly including most Hispanic and Black individuals polled, Rating Police Encounters.

An estimated 40 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, or about 17 percent of the population, had a face-to-face contact with a police officer in one year. Among people who had face-to-face contacts, about nine out of 10 residents felt the police were respectful or acted properly, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics study, police used “or” threatened to use force in less than two percent of contacts.

Even in fragile communities (i.e., high unemployment), a study finds that 74% of fragile-community residents vs. 87% of Americans overall think people like themselves are treated “very fairly” or “fairly” by their local police. The results vary by racial group: Black (65%) and Hispanic (72%) residents of fragile communities are considerably less likely than white residents (87%) to say people like themselves are treated fairly by police, Gallup.

Law enforcement remains one of the most respected institutions in the country. When adding all three categories, a great deal of confidence, quite a lot, and some, 81 percent expressed a level of confidence in law enforcement, Confidence in Law Enforcement.

Conclusions

The current data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics contradicts many media and critical commentaries on police-citizen interactions. Add previous research, and a fair reading of the collective data indicates that most Americans, regardless of demographics, want cops in their communities and believe that officers act properly.

Yes, data on perceptions as to excessive use of force and courtesy-respect remain for African Americans and need to be addressed.

It’s difficult for some to understand the differences between police contacts and police-initiated contacts. There are endless media reports/commentary suggesting overly aggressive cops proactively stopping low-income people and violating constitutional rights ending with increasing arrests and violence.

The flip side to this narrative are media reports that cops throughout the country are holding back and not being proactive because of massive negative publicity and protests.

Both narratives are challenged by the data. Police-initiated contacts increased. The use of force decreased for police-initiated contacts.

2.0 percent of Americans experienced threats “or” use of force by police in 2018 (citizen and police-initiated contact), up from 1.8 percent three years earlier. But threats or use of force numbers need context.

Per the Bureau Of Justice Statistics, violent crime increased 28 percent since 2015. Serious violent crime also increased. Fear of crime is at an all-time high. Per Gallup, violence tripled, Crime in America. Violence is skyrocketing in many cities.

Contact with law enforcement increased, 53,496,000 in 2015-61,542,000 in 2018. Most of this was resident-initiated (27,060,000-35,468,000). Considering the increase in national and local violence, increased citizen contact was expected and indicates an increased willingness of citizens to work with law enforcement.

Thus with increases in violent crime and police-initiated contacts increasing from 27, 416,000 to 28,881,000 and police-initiated street stops increasing, 2,504,000-3,528,000, there is no evidence of a national police showdown.

There’s no doubt that police slowdowns are happening in cities experiencing violent protests over police tactics which is leading to massive increases in violent crime, but it’s a local phenomenon, not a national issue.

Add this to the fact that the use of force decreased for police-initiated contacts from 3.3 to 2.8 percent, increased proactive contact did not result in increased use of violence.

Police-initiated arrests, however, decreased considerably, 815,000 in 2015-386,000 in 2018. Cops may be reacting to negative publicity and avoiding use of force issues via arrest. Per multiple media reports, there is an issue of police officers leaving the job and a decrease of 63 percent in recruitment per the Police Executive Research Forum, thus fewer arrests to keep officers on the street for larger issues may be necessary.

There is considerable consistency regarding police-initiated contacts and household income. The lowest and highest income household incomes had the same amount of police-initiated contact (11.4-11.5 percent), thus contradicting those who argue that proactive police contact is directed solely towards low-income communities.

There are also media reports of decreasing confidence In law enforcement but citizen-initiated contacts have grown considerably.

All of this indicates that police-citizen interactions are immensely complex undertakings that do not fit many media-commentary observations. From my experience as a police officer, I found that the most innocuous encounters can turn into deadly or violence-filled interactions in a heartbeat. There are a multitude of people with emotional or mental health problems or are drunk or under the influence of drugs interacting with law enforcement.

When I was a cop, there were lots of interactions that had the potential for violence that immediately stopped when I calmly stated that there would be “consequences” if a suspect tried to use force.

How one deescalates “threats or use of force” during highly emotional encounters with people under the influence is an immensely complex problem with no easy solutions.  The pandemic has made things worse with exploding violence in many cities.

But the bottom line is that much said as commentary or in media reports about law enforcement is factually incorrect.

Source

Bureau Of Justice Statistics

See More

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.

US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.

National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.

The Crime in America.Net RSS feed (https://crimeinamerica.net/?feed=rss2) provides subscribers with a means to stay informed about the latest news, publications, and other announcements from the site.

Contact

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