20 July 2016

Racial Bias in Policing

For the week of July 24, 2016

After police shot and killed Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Governor Dayton said Castile’s traffic stop would likely not have resulted in death if he had been white. Records show Castile had been previously pulled over by police over 50 times, a number that, to many Minnesotans, proves the prevalence of racial profiling by police. This week, a look at the realities of racial bias in policing, both nationwide and in Minnesota, and, how communities and the police can begin to rebuild strained relationships.

Guest: Michelle Phelps, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota and Faculty Affiliate at the Law School’s Robina Institute and the Minnesota Population Center

  • Part 1 – 12:20

    Part 1
    Phelps sites studies that show African American drivers are three times more likely to be pulled over by police; Black men age 25 or younger have a 28% chance of being pulled over; and, police officers are more likely to rough-up Black suspects. “Together that creates this pattern of bias,” Phelps says, “that creates differential outcomes for black and white Americans and deferential attitudes towards the police.” Bias exists on an individual level, both in police officers and in all of us, Phelps says, but also on a structural level. Inequality in neighborhoods, education and income also contribute to implicit bias.
  • Part 2 – 14:16

    Part 2
    How do we reduce racial bias and excessive use of force by police? Requiring police to wear body cameras and carry liability insurance are two proposals in Minnesota. Placing greater accountability on police officers could have beneficial results; however, Phelps worries these are “technological solutions to fundamental divides between communities and police.”


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