U of L professor says frequency of police shootings hasn't risen - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L professor says frequency of police shootings hasn't risen since Ferguson

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Justin Nix Justin Nix

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The tension between police and African Americans seemed to reach a boiling point two years ago with the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. 

Some in the law enforcement community predicted crime rates and police shootings would rise as a result of increased public scrutiny of police. 

But a professor at the University of Louisville says the actual numbers tell a different story. 

"I think the police are in a new era of policing," said Justin Nix, a professor in the U of L Department of Criminal Justice. "Call it the Post-Ferguson Era or the YouTube Era."

Nix has been researching this era of frustration toward police. 

"We were looking for a significant change, like a spike or an increase, in the number of fatal shootings since Ferguson, and we did not find one."

Another presumption is if officers are on camera, they will be less likely to use deadly force. 

Researchers have discredited that idea, too, because the number of officer-related shootings has been steady over the years.  

"Cops always have to be aware that their actions may be recorded," Nix said.

In fact, some say they actually encourage you to press record.  

"Please do record our officers, because that helps us investigate when there in misconduct," Nix said. 

Nearly 1,000 people are killed by law enforcement each year in the United States. Statistics show the people dying are most often African Americans. 

The President providing statistics Thursday.

"African Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over," President Obama said in an address in Poland. "After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched. Last year, African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites. African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites."

"We found that black suspects were twice as likely as white suspects to be unarmed," Nix said.

Nix says studies show racial profiling is real, but can often times be unintentional and can be unlearned with intense training. 

"There have been laboratory studies, or experimental studies, that have shown that subjects are more likely to mistake an object as a weapon if they've been primed with a white face as opposed to a black face," Nix said.

Officers have expressed to Nix they have had trouble attracting quality recruits in recent years since the events in Ferguson.

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