I-Team: Police and diversity, does racial bias play a role?

By Glen Meek, I-Team Reporter

Published 11/25 2015 07:26PM

Updated 11/25 2015 07:26PM

Numbers suggest that African-American men are more likely than their white counterparts to be killed by police gunfire.  But how great is the disparity?  That's the question on a lot of people's minds.

The 8 News NOW I-Team spoke to a local expert on police tactics and training and asked him that very question.

John Peters runs the institute for the prevention of in-custody deaths in Henderson.  Peters says the available data indicates African-American men are disproportionately more likely than white men to be killed by police. 

Peters says it's hard to determine how much of a role racial bias plays -- even in the most recent incident in Chicago.

"Whether this was a racially motivated incident -- only the officer would truly know that, but it certainly didn't do anyone justice the way this took place, and it certainly would add fuel to that argument that this is white-on-black -- no doubt about it," Peters said.

Peters says one reason it's difficult to get at the root causes of the  disparity between whites and blacks in police shootings is data.  Data about those shootings lacks in this country.

He says the poor quality of data is partly a function of the fact that police departments' reporting of deadly force to the FBI is voluntary, not mandatory.

"The data just isn't being collected," Peters said.  "And of course, if the data isn't being collected -- it can't properly be analyzed, so that's a gap in the reporting system right now, and I think it really needs to be closed."

Peters says he believes the public outcry will ultimate prompt the government to make police reporting of officer-involved shootings mandatory.  Peters said that will help investigators have a better idea of what's behind the problem -- be it socio-economic factors -- racial bias -- officer training -- or other issues.

Just last month U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch came out against  mandatory reporting of police shootings, saying many local agencies don't have the resources to do it.

Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

comments powered by Disqus
comments powered by Disqus