Looking for Light not Heat
by Andy Joppa
“One cool judgement is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to do is to supply light and not heat”
Statistics are never all that should be considered, but they should not be totally ignored. It is often these numbers that have a chance to shed “light” on issues where the public rhetoric has done little more than create “heat;” at times an explosive heat, as we see now with the protest/riots being experienced in many of America’s major cities. At least statistics offer the possibility of being objectively neutral. Certainly, more so, than the wild and vulgar utterings of masked street radicals.
There is little disagreement that the police actions directed at George Floyd were horrific, unacceptable, and seemed to border on sadism. I don’t want to pre-judge the police officer(s) involved but there seems be little that could be offered that would give his actions any legitimacy. All fair-minded people were outraged at what they saw…especially as these acts were being performed in their name. The response to Floyd’s death has been a series of protests that have degraded, in many cases, into riots, accompanied by horrific levels of violence and destruction. In my estimation, few of these demonstrator’s care about anything other than mindlessly attacking the police, America and, of course, President Donald Trump. But, can I prove it?
(Note: I have rounded off some numbers to the highest useful whole number for easier reading. No meaning will be altered)
The question is whether Floyds death was an anomaly, a rare exception, or did it represent a prevailing pattern of police brutality and violence focused primarily on African Americans? It is at this point that statistics start to really matter.
There are approximately 700, 000 law enforcement officers in the United States. The low-end estimate for the percentage of sociopaths in the total population is 2%. Let’s say the police have done a better job than the ministry, the government, the military, civil rights movements, the teaching ranks or corporations at filtering these types out during the hiring process or removed them from the job at latter points. (Note: all the organizations to which I have referred have measured sociopathic membership above 4%)
Thus, the police level of sociopathic behavior has been halved to 1%. (I use that number not to praise the police but to show that even at low end considerations problems can exist that are not systemic). That means that at any given moment there are 7000 sociopathic law enforcement officers. Do I accept that in an environment where 99% of your officers show a normal psychological profile, but 1% are deeply disturbed, that anomalies, like the George Floyd death, would occur? It would be unreasonable to not expect these rare moments. The rest of this essay will be dedicated to showing how statistics document that police actions can best be described as taking place within an unbiased and normal psychological manner and that those that unfortunately occur, in no way represent a general propensity of the police.
Here are some general statistics unrelated to race…but still important for my analysis.
· According to 2019 data there are 330 million people in the United States.
· There are approximately 2 police officers per thousand people.
· Officers come in contact with 17% of the population. That means there 56 million contacts.
· As of the last report there were 26,000 excessive force complaints against officers. That’s 0.04% of contacts.
· Only 8% of those complaints were sustained. That’s 2,080 complaints out of 54 million contacts or .004%.
To repeat, we have an assessment that says less than four one thousandth of a percent of police contacts can be defined as having used excessive force. That seems quite an exceptional level of performance while doing an extremely demanding job in a life and death circumstance.
To put that into perspective:
· You are 7 times more likely to be murdered.
· 15 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident
· 42 times more likely to be raped
Than to have a police officer use excessive force on you.
OK, lets agree that these statistics are not everything, but they should lead us into other, more definitive analysis.
In 2018 we can look at police shootings. Of the 998-total categorized as Deadly Use of Force, here is a breakdown by race:
· Whites 456 (46%)
· Blacks 229 (23%)
· Hispanic 165 (17%)
· Other and unknown comprising the rest.
Against the total population these number, appear marginally suspect. However, against criminal populations they align quite well. Black men commit murder 573 % more than white men; rape are committed at a level 146% greater, robbery at 618 % greater, aggravated assault at 203 % greater, and violent crime in total at 264 % greater.
One again…we’re still not quite able to totally dismiss the extreme claims by such groups as Black Lives Matter, that the police, as an organization, are comprised of bigots who directed indiscriminate violence towards blacks. But. we’re getting close…very close. Perhaps more information will get us there.
There were 998 Police Use of Deadly Force incidents. Of these 95 % of suspects were armed. Of the 47 (5 %) who were unarmed 23 were white, 18 were black, 6 were Hispanic. Here, a statement of significance can be offered: There were more unarmed whites who had deadly force applied than blacks.
It should also be noted that the level of deadly force where the suspect is unarmed is very low and non-lethal force had been attempted and failed in almost half the cases. The wild claims of BLM seem totally unrelated to reality.
We can invoke some recent studies which will help us to create more “light.”
First, A 2016 study by Roland G. Fryer Jr., who is an economics professor at Harvard, found that no racial bias could be detected in police shootings, in either the raw data or when accounting for controls.
His recommendation? “Black Lives Matter should seek solutions within their own communities rather than changing the behaviors of police or other external forces.” If Fryer is correct, his study and conclusion should end any debate…but, of course it won’t.
Second, there were 6.000 black homicide deaths in 2014 according to FBI data-the most recent year for which such data are available- compared with 6000 homicide deaths for whites and Hispanics combined. Almost all of the black homicide deaths had black killers.
Third, police officers-of all races- are also disproportionately endangered by black assailants. Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police.
Fourth, among black victims, 63 percent of violent victimizations were committed by black offenders, 11 percent by white offenders and 7 percent by Hispanic offenders.
I’ll conclude with a few focused statistics on homicide.
According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans accounted for 53% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008, with Whites 45 % and “Other” 2 %. The offending rate for African Americans was almost 8 times higher than Whites. Most homicides were intraracial, with 84% of White victims killed by Whites, and 93% of African American victims were killed by African Americans.
Non-gun homicides represented about 30% of total murders in the time period. Blacks were still overrepresented although only by about 2.5x their share of the general population.
I believe any fair reading of the information that I’ve supplied is as much objective proof as any reader should need in reaching a conclusion. I have reached mine.
“Considering the enormous number of contacts that police have each year, considering the higher propensity of blacks to be involved with violent crimes, considering the aggressive behavior often shown by blacks to police, considering everything we know, the statistics speak loudly that the police, at the national level, should be commended for their exemplary conduct. Conduct that should be honored by the black community and not be a source of useless violence. These riots are funded by outside agents and provoked by violent agitators. They serve no one’s purpose except those to whom I have alluded, least of all the black populations used by these anarchists for their own purpose.
Bravo to the Thin Blue Line that is protecting us from chaos.
In politics, manipulating reality can take presidence over finding reality.
The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States.