John Buntin has an engaging piece in New York Times on how to prevent gang members from killing each other. David Kennedy, subject of a collective RBC wonk crush, describes how the long-term, prevalent use of stop-and-frisk tactics in minority neighborhoods has eroded community trust of law enforcement:
In high-crime neighborhoods across the country, community cooperation with police investigations has virtually stopped. Itâ€™s not simply that residents are afraid of retaliation, Kennedy says. â€œThere is a strong and growing norm in many communities, especially poor black communities, that good people donâ€™t talk to and donâ€™t work with the police,â€ he says. So even while the sheer number of murders in most cities is dropping, the homicide clearance rate â€” the proportion of cases solved â€” is doing the same.
But the otherwise excellent article includes one false note:
A 2009 Pew Research Center study found that just 14 percent of African-Americans had a great deal of confidence in the proposition that their local police officers treated blacks and whites equally, compared with 38 percent of whites who thought so.
This is a common, but misleading bit of media legerdemain, namely quoting statistics in a fashion that implies enormous disagreement between how whites and African-Americans perceive issues related to race. But if you stated these same statistics the other way, you would see that 86% of African-Americans and 62% of whites agree that local police do not treat blacks and whites equally. We ought to be worried not about so much about the level of White-Black disagreement, which is small, but the fact that people of different races largely agree that the police are engaging in discrimination.