Police shooting differs by age, race, sex, education

A study on police officers from Riverside County in California has found that the likelihood of the officer using deadly force is linked to their age, race, sex and experience of previous shootings.

Male officers were more likely to shoot than females. White officers were more likely to shoot than other ethnic groups. Shooting was most common in young officers, and in those who did not have a college education.

Police Officer Characteristics and the Likelihood of Using Deadly Force

Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 35, No. 4, 505-521

James P. McElvain, Augustine J. Kposowa

Past research on police shootings, when examining officer characteristics, has focused on the officer’s race, particularly when it is not the same as the race of the person shot. Data from 186 officer-involved shootings were used to examine whether race effects existed and, if so, would be eliminated or attenuated by controlling for officer gender, education, age, and history of shooting. Male officers were more likely to shoot than female officers, and college-educated officers were less likely to be involved in shootings than officers with no college education. Risk of officer-involved shooting was reduced as the officer aged. White, non-Hispanic officers were more likely to shoot than Hispanic officers; however, there was no significant difference between Hispanic and Black officers. Officers with a previous history of shooting were more than 51% as likely to shoot during the follow-up period as officers without a history of shootings.

Link to abstract of scientific study.

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