The correlation between police violence and race is an uncontested fact, yet the issue is not whether or not this is true, but why it occurs.
Many people quickly assert that the reason behind these deaths is a racist agenda put into place by the police, but this could not be more wrong. In fact, this assumption can only lead to further damage race relations. A deeper look is required to reveal the true cause of this correlation.
A major factor ignored in this case is the fact that minorities tend to commit violent crimes at higher rates than Caucasians and Asians. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over half of all homicides in the United States were committed by African Americans from 1980 to 2008, even though they only make up 13 percent of the U.S. population.
This statistic should not be taken at surface value either, as the reason that minorities tend to commit more crime is not due to their race, but other more prevalent factors. And these numbers only include homicides that are solved, which excludes about 61 percent of killings, and only those committed by a single perpetrator, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Data recorded by the FBI reveals that there is a strong positive correlation between crime and lower socioeconomic status. These communities are characterized by low employment rates and high single motherhood and high school dropout rates, as well as frequent gang activity. It is no surprise that there are more instances of police violence against minorities, as there is much more crime and therefore a greater likelihood of a violent criminal being present in these areas.
A frequent point brought up is the fact that many of the shootings do not happen when a violent crime is taking place, but at routine traffic stops. With a higher police presence due to higher crime rates, there tends to be more stops for simple traffic violations, which also increases the chances of pulling over a violent criminal.
More often than not, the police are justified in the shooting. Many times the victim is carrying a weapon or has a violent reaction and the safest option to avoid officer injury or death is to respond with deadly force. In Graham v. Connor heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, it was determined that the police may shoot someone who is suspected of a severe crime, poses a threat to officers or actively resists arrest.
An overwhelming majority of police shootings meet these criteria, as data collected by the Washington Post in 2015 found that almost all police shooting victims were armed with dangerous weapons and posed a threat to police officers.
The problem does not lie with how the police go about their jobs, but how well these communities do. The best way we can solve the issue of police violence against minorities is to address the root of the problem.
Someone who has graduated high school, has no children outside of marriage and is employed reduces their chance of being impoverished dramatically to around 2 percent, according to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research organization. We can successfully help these communities and reduce police violence by encouraging education, promoting the use of protection and supporting the creation of new jobs.