Interactions Between Black People and the Police

by Mike Kimel

Interactions Between Black People and the Police

A lot of Americans want the police reigned in, particularly when it comes to their interactions with Black people. Black people are more likely to be stopped by police than people of other ethnicities, and sometimes those stops end badly.

My take on this issue may be a bit different, since Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill came along when I had reached an age where I could follow and make sense out of politics. It was probably the first major law to which I paid a lot of attention. I remember folks like Kweise Mufume, then the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, pushing for things which today are derided because nobody likes the consequences. And yet, it seems to me that those very consequences are what everyone wanted at the time.

So let’s do an exercise. Below I’ve posted an FBI table showing homicide data by race, ethnicity, and gender. (Homicides in which the data on the perpetrator of the homicide rate is unknown are not included.)

fbi6fbi62(Dan here-please excuse the look of the graph…I had trouble fitting it in)
*See correction below
When looking at the table, keep in mind that Black people represent about 13% of the US population, Hispanics are about 18%, Asians are about 2%, Native Americans are about 1%, and Whites are about 62%. (The small balance is classified as “two or more.”)

Now, assume that we as a society find a way to make the police interactions with Black people to be, proportionately, no different than the police interactions with non-Black people. Presumably this is accomplished by fewer interactions between police and Black people, not more interactions between police and non-Black people. Given the table above, will the number and proportion of homicide victims who are Black increase or decrease? Will it make the law abiding majority of Black people more safe, or less safe? What else does the table (or other data you may choose to bring in) tell us we should expect to see happen?

*Update correction:
Mike says:
A breakdown more akin to what the FBI used, from the Census (

White Alone: 77%
Black Alone: 13%
Hispanic or Latino: 17%
White Alone, not Hispanic: 62%

Other groups are primarily

Native American Alone: 1.2%
Asian Alone: 5.6%