What The Data Really Says About Police and Racial Bias

As the nation reels from a series of high-profile fatal shootings of black men by police officers, many have decried the lack of readily available data on how racial bias factors into American policing. But while it’s true that there is no adequate federal database of fatal police shootings (F.B.I. director James Comey has described the lack of data as “embarrassing and ridiculous”), there exists a wealth of academic research, official and media investigations, and court rulings on the topic of race and law enforcement.

The Hive has collected 18 such findings below. This list is not exhaustive, and does not purport to comment on the work of all police officers. It is, rather, merely a digest of the information available at present. Sometimes, studies and investigations reveal evidence of intentional bias; other studies point to broader societal and institutional factors that lead to implicit bias. Taken together, the research paints a picture of a nation where a citizen’s race may well affect their experience with police—whether an encounter ends with a traffic stop, the use of police force, or a fatal shooting.

Vanity Fair