Posts Tagged ‘Peter Moskos’

Are police shootings only a race issue?

January 9, 2019

African-American men are shot dead by American police at a much higher rate than white men.  Almost everybody knows this, or should.

In 2012, according to FBI data, African-Americans were 13 percent of the population, but 31 percent of those were shot dead by police, and 39 percent of those shot dead who weren’t attacking.   

But what about shootings of white men?  Are they all justified?  Should we be worried about them?

The World Socialist Web Site pointed out that in some areas of the USA, poor white men are at just as much risk of being killed by police, or even greater risk, as black men.

[There is a] vast and rising death toll among working-class white men in rural and small-town America, who are being killed by police at rates that approach those of black men in urban areas.

Police violence is focused overwhelmingly on men lowest on the socio-economic ladder: in rural areas outside the South, predominately white men; in the Southwest, disproportionately Hispanic men; in mid-size and major cities, disproportionately black men.

Significantly, in the rural South, where the population is racially mixed, white men and black men are killed by police at nearly identical rates. What unites these victims of police violence is not their race, but their class status (as well as, of course, their gender).

Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who now teaches criminal justice at CUNY, reported that the states with the highest-rates of police killings have lower-than-average black populations, and the states with the higher percentages of black people have lower-than-average rates of police killings.

Utah has a murder and violence rate below the national average, a low poverty rate, and is 90 percent white. And yet people in Utah are almost five times as likely an in New York to be killed by a cop.  Utah has murder rate lower than NYC, 1/5 the poverty rate, far fewer cops, and Utah is 90% white.  In 2018, the rate of people shot and killed by police in Utah is multiple times higher than NYC.

I’d speculate significant variables are (in no particular order) training, fewer cops per capita, fewer cops per mile (no backup), one-person patrol, more guns, gun culture, more meth, more booze, and race (with more white states having more police-involved shootings).

The ten leading states — as in cops most shootingest states — in rank order, are New Mexico, Alaska, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, West Virginia, Montana and Idaho.  It certainly seems like if we were to focus on the states that have the highest rates of police-involved shootings (and by far), we could find some low-hanging fruit to reduce the number of said shootings.  But to do this we’d have stop thinking of police-involved shootings as primarily related to race.

Collectively the top-10 states are 4.9 percent African-American (compared to 13 percent nationally). These are the cowboy states out west. The 10 states with the highest percentage of black population (collectively 25%) have a rate of police-involved homicide (0.24) that is below the national average.


The police’s troublesome 1 percent

February 4, 2016

Out of 12,000 Chicago police, 124 are responsible for one-third police of misconduct lawsuits, costing the city $34 million.  Just five police officers were subject of a combined 16 lawsuits, costing the city $1.5 million.

That’s not typical. Of 1,100 lawsuits settled since 2009, only 5 percent paid plaintiffs more than $100,000.

moskosinthehoodPeter Moskos, a former Baltimore street policeman who now teaches criminal justice at NYU, quoted these statistics, which are from a pay-wallled Chicago Tribune article, on his blog.

I’ve been struck by how many of the shooters in high-profile police killings of unarmed civilians have long records of misconduct, which nobody cared about.

My friend Bill Hickok would say this an example of instance of the “power law”, which, when applied to human affairs, indicates that the vast majority of the accomplishments and failures of any group of people is due to a small fraction of people within the group.


New links: Why Elites Fail, etc.

June 19, 2012

Anybody who finds my posts interesting should find the items in my links menus even more interesting.  Here are some recent additions to those menus.


Why Elites Fail Christopher Hayes, author of the newly-published Twilight of the Elites, attacks the myth of meritocracy.  Elite groups have learned to rig the system in their own favor, but yet convince themselves and others that they deserve their privileges.

Malcolm Gladwell Unmasked: a Look at American’s Most Successful Propagandist  The best-selling writer Malcolm Gladwell is exposed as a shill for Enron, Wall Street, the tobacco industry and the drug industry.

The problem with performance pay. A former high-ranking Australian government official writes that so-called “performance pay” undermines morale and teamwork, and enables managers to evade their responsibilities.

The forgetting pill: How a new drug can ease your worst memoriesA writer for UK Wired tells of a new drug by which people can erase unwanted memories, much like in the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” but skips over the Orwellian implications.  Hat tip to Bill Hickok.

Articles of lasting interest

Clayton Christensen: How Will You Measure Your Life?   Christensen, described by a New Yorker writer as “the most influential business thinker on earth,” writes about how businesses fail through looking at marginal cost rather than total cost, and why it is easier to stick by your principles 100 percent of the time rather than 98 percent of the time.

Dimitry Orlov: Sustainable living as religious observanceOrlov is a Russian-born American citizen who believes that the United States is on the verge of collapse for many of the same reasons the old Soviet Union collapsed. Although apparently not a religious person himself, he argues that history shows religion can hold societies together when their political and economic systems are broken.

Good blogs

Ask Old Jules | the Hermit in the Hill CountryA blogger in the Texas Hill Country responds to readers’ questions with wit and wisdom.

Cop in the Hood.   Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore City police officer who now teaches police science at City University of New York, provides thoughtful commentary on law enforcement.

Diane Ravitch’s blog: a site to discuss better education for allA long-time writer on education issues and a critic of progressive education, Ravich now defends teachers and public schools against corporatized school “reform”.