Results from experimental trials testing participant responses to White, Hispanic and Black suspects in high-fidelity deadly force judgment and decision-making simulations
- 1.3k Downloads
Advance the methodological techniques used to examine the influence of suspect race and ethnicity on participant decisions to shoot in an experimental setting.
After developing and testing a novel set of 60 realistic, high definition video deadly force scenarios based on 30 years of official data on officer-involved shootings in the United States, three separate experiments were conducted testing police (n = 36), civilian (n= 72) and military (n = 6) responses (n = 1,812) to the scenarios in high-fidelity computerized training simulators. Participants’ responses to White, Black and Hispanic suspects in potentially deadly situations were analyzed using a multi-level mixed methods strategy. Key response variables were reaction time to shoot and shooting errors.
In all three experiments using a more externally valid research method than previous studies, we found that participants took longer to shoot Black suspects than White or Hispanic suspects. In addition, where errors were made, participants across experiments were more likely to shoot unarmed White suspects than unarmed Black or Hispanic suspects, and were more likely to fail to shoot armed Black suspects than armed White or Hispanic suspects. In sum, this research found that participants displayed significant bias favoring Black suspects in their decisions to shoot.
The results of these three experiments challenge the results of less robust experimental designs and shed additional light on the broad issue of the role that status characteristics, such as race and ethnicity, play in the criminal justice system. Future research should explore the generalizability of these findings, determine whether bias favoring Black suspects is a consequence of administrative measures (e.g., education, training, policies, and laws), and identify the cognitive processes that underlie this phenomenon.
KeywordsPolice Decision making Suspect race Suspect ethnicity
- Alpert, G., & Dunham, R. (2010). Policy and training recommendations related to police use of CEDs: overview of findings from a comprehensive national study. Police Quarterly, 13(3), 235–259.Google Scholar
- Brown, J., & Langan, P. (2001). Policing and Homicide, 1976–98: Justifiable Homicide by Police, Police Officers Murdered by Felons. U.S. Department of Justice. Washington: Bureau of Justice Statistics.Google Scholar
- Campbell, D., & Stanley, J. (1963). Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Cooper, M. (February 5, 1999). “Officers in Bronx Fire 41 Shots, And an Unarmed Man Is Killed.” The New York Times.Google Scholar
- Deakin, T. (1988). Police Professionalism: The Renaissance of American Law Enforcement. Springfield, Ill.; Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division. (2006). Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers. Washington: U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
- Fyfe, J. J. (1978). Shots Fired: An Analysis of New York City Police Firearms Discharges. PhD dissertation, State University of New York at Albany.Google Scholar
- Fyfe, J. (2000). Urban Policing in Australia and the United States, In Policing Issues, Issue #1, pp. 1–12Google Scholar
- Geller, W. A. (1982). Deadly force: what we know. Journal of Police Science and Administration, 10, 151–177.Google Scholar
- Goldkamp, J. S. (1976). Minorities as victims of police shootings: interpretations of racial disproportionality and police use of deadly force.”. Justice System Journal, 2, 169–183.Google Scholar
- Honig, A. & Roland, J. (1998). “Shots Fired: Officer Involved.” The Police Chief.Google Scholar
- Klinger, D. (2004). Into the Kill Zone: A Cop’s Eye View of Deadly Force. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Klinger, D. (2005). Social Theory and the Street Cop: The Case of Deadly Force. Ideas in American Policing, No. 7. Washington, D.C: Police Foundation.Google Scholar
- Liska, A., & Yu, J. (1992). Specifying and Testing the Threat Hypothesis: Police Use of Deadly Force. In A. E. Liska (Ed.), Social Threat and Social Control (pp. 53–68). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Lopez, R.J. “No evidence Ruben Salazar was targeted in killing, report says.” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2011.Google Scholar
- Perrow, C. (1984). Normal Accidents: Living With High Risk Technologies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Solomon, R. M., & Horn, J. M. (1986). Post-Shooting Traumatic Reactions: A Pilot Study. In J. T. Reese & H. A. Goldstein (Eds.), Psychological Services for Law Enforcement. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
- Stone, C., Carter, Z., Belfiore, T., Bully-Cummings, E., Daughtry, H., Farrell, M., Gascon, G., Rice, A., Rice, L. & Hewitt, D. (2010). Reducing Inherent Danger: Report of the Task Force on Police-on-police Shootings. New York State Task Force on Police-on-Police Shootings.Google Scholar
- Takagi, P. (1974). A garrison state in a “democratic” society. Crime and Scholarly Justice, 1, 27–33.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Justice. (2001). Policing and homicide, 1976–98: Justifiable homicide by police, police officers murdered by felons (NCJ180987). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Killed in the Line of Duty: A Study of Selected Felonious Killings of Law Enforcement Officers (Washington, DC, 1992).Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, In the Line of Fire: Violence Against Law Enforcement (Washington, DC, 1997).Google Scholar
- US-House-Committee-on-the-Judiciary-Subcommittee-on-Criminal-Justice. (1989). Police Use of Deadly Force. Hearing…May 8, 1987. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
- Walker, S., Spohn, C., DeLone, M. (2004). The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity and Crime in America. 3rd edn. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/ThompsonGoogle Scholar