Amid the public outcry following the spate of high-profile fatal police shootings of black men, communities have called for police departments to diversify their ranks to better reflect the populations they serve.
From St. Paul, Minn., to Baton Rouge, Charlotte to Ferguson, Mo., activists, newspaper editorials and even the White House urged police departments to recruit more black and Hispanic officers to combat the police violence that disproportionately impacts communities of color.
But a new study finds that adding black police officers is not an effective strategy for reducing police shootings of black citizens in the vast majority of cities. In fact, hiring more black officers could lead to even more violent interactions with black citizens — at least until they make up more than 40 percent of the police force, according to researchers at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
“Police organizations that have higher percentages of black officers are likely to have more police-involved homicides of black citizens, until they reach a critical mass,” said Sean Nicholson-Crotty, an author of the study who teaches public affairs at Indiana University.