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Policing Is Racially Biased

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  • Clip: Are cops going where crime is, or are they looking for it?

    Debaters discuss where crime originates, and how police work targets crime.

  • Clip: Are drug arrests biased?

    Debaters discuss drug crime targeting and policy.

  • Clip: Debaters discuss biased policing and the prison industrial complex.

    An audience member asks if biased policing is related to the prison industrial complex.

  • 7-Minute Debate: Policing Is Racially Biased

    Is policing racially biased? This debate short is part of a series co-produced by Intelligence Squared U.S. and Newsy

Debate Details

Policing Is Racially Biased - Debate

In 2014, the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, set off a wave of protests and sparked a movement targeting racial disparities in criminal justice.  Since then, there have been other controversial deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement that have captured the public’s attention, from Tamir Rice, to Philando Castile.  But there are some who say that these encounters, many of them recorded, have fed a narrative of biased policing that the data does not back up, vilifying people who are trying to do good in a difficult job that often puts them in harm’s way.  What are the statistics, and how should we interpret them?  How have recent incidents shaped our view of policing?  Does crime drive law enforcement’s use of force, or is there racial bias?

The Debaters

For the motion

Gloria Browne Marshall

Gloria Browne-Marshall

Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, John Jay College of Criminal Justice & Former Civil Rights Attorney

Gloria J. Browne-Marshall is an associate professor of constitutional law at John Jay College (CUNY), a legal correspondent and a civil-rights... Read More

Marq Claxton IQ2US Debate

Marq Claxton

Black Law Enforcement Alliance & Retired NYPD Detective

Marquez (Marq) Claxton is currently the director of public relations and political affairs for the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. Marq is a retired... Read More

Against the motion

Heather MacDonald IQ2US Debate

Heather Mac Donald

Thomas W. Smith Fellow, Manhattan Institute & Author, The War on Cops

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Mac Donald’s work at... Read More

Harry Stern

Harry Stern

Attorney, Rains Lucia Stern & Former Police Officer

Harry S. Stern is the managing principal for Rains Lucia Stern, a law firm focused on civil litigation and criminal defense. Stern has successfully... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
Research studies and Department of Justice reports have revealed racial bias in policing, ranging from routine traffic stops to the use of force.
 
Policies put in place to fight crime, like “broken windows” policing and stop-and-frisk, have disproportionately targeted black communities.
 
Social scientists have found that implicit bias, the association of black men with criminality, can impact police interactions.
Against The Motion
The higher rate of violent crime committed by black males accounts for the higher proportion of African American deaths from police shootings.
 
Studies have shown that blacks are equally likely, or even less likely than whites to be shot by police.
 
The media and the increasing use of video have fed the idea that there is an epidemic of police shootings when in reality, these events are rare.
 

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The Research

The Research

Criticism Shouldn’t Keep Police from Doing Their Jobs

June 4, 2015

Police officers don’t have the right to hold back from their job because they are angered by calls for reform.

It’s Time to End Demonizing of Police

July 12, 2016

Two years of corrosive rhetoric about racist cops, based on falsehoods—with disastrous effects.

Law Enforcement

BJS's Law Enforcement Unit maintains more than a dozen national data collections, covering federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and special topics in law enforcement.

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