How to Stop the Lie about Police Racism: Tell the Truth

Proverbs 23:23 “Buy the truth, and don’t sell it. Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

You’ve probably used the phrase “I just don’t buy it.” It’s a way of saying “I don’t believe it.” Like so many idioms in our English language, it has its roots in the Bible, and especially in our verse for this week. King Solomon, in one of his many practical instructions in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, advises us to be very careful when people are trying to get you to buy in with their position. In America today, it is easier than ever to be confused over what really is the truth. Such is the case with our police men and women.

Do most Americans seem to love our police? We should if we love liberty. Without our police enforcing the law, there is no liberty. Without them, people will do bad things. In fact, contrary to the leftist narrative that America’s police need more oversight to combat their racist behavior, the majority of Americans (54%) have consistently voted our police as one of our most trusted institutions, which ranks third behind our military (78%) and small businesses (64%), and ahead of our churches at 48%!

But maybe there’s another American institution we should consult for their opinion on our police. Americans love our football. We sometimes elevate NFL players to hero status in our communities. What say them? Back in August 2016, NFL’s San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was asked by reporters why he refused to stand as the national anthem was played and the American flag was raised. He told the media he chose to sit “to protest the oppression of people of color in the United States and ongoing issues with police brutality”. Over a year later, on September 27 2017, 14 of the Jacksonville Jaguars kneeled in London as America’s national anthem played but stood during Britain’s anthem “God Save the Queen.” Do NFL players know something about our police that the majority of Americans don’t? What is the truth?

In July 2016, just before the NFL protests began, Dr. Roland G. Fryer Jr., the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard, published a study entitled “An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force”. Dr. Fryer is the youngest black professor to receive tenure at Harvard and the first to win the John Bates Clark medal for the most promising American economist under 40. His motive? He was angry over the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and other blacks during police confrontations: “Protesting is not my thing. But data is my thing. So I decided that I was going to collect a bunch of data and try to understand what really is going on when it comes to racial differences in police use of force.”

He and his researchers spent nearly 3,000 hours collecting data from police reports in Houston, Austin, and Dallas, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Orlando, FL, Jacksonville, FL, and four other Florida counties. They examined over 1,300 police shootings from 2000-2015, using factors such as the time of day, the age of the suspect, the ethnicity of the police officers involved, the type of incident (robbery, traffic stop, violent confrontation, etc.), whether the officer fired before or after being attacked. His goal was to determine if the data points to a biased pattern of police use of force against America’s black community.

He published two significant findings: 1) police officers are more likely to have physical altercations with non-whites than whites, and 2) in those incidents of the most extreme use of force — officer-involved shootings — there were no racial differences (police officers were not biased towards shooting blacks). Professor Fryer said this report was “the most surprising result of my career.”

What is even more enlightening is Dr. Fryer’s findings actually validate previous studies. The National Institute of Justice’s 2010 study of the Seattle and Miami police departments reported that “non-white suspects were less likely to be injured than white suspects … where suspect race was available as a variable for analysis. Although we cannot speculate as to the cause of this finding, or whether it is merely spurious, it is encouraging that minority suspects were not more likely to be injured than whites.”

In another study done in 2013 on New York City’s 30,000 police officers, only 8 people died from police gunfire – the lowest in 40 years! And all of 8 of these victims were armed with either a gun or a cutting weapon. In 2014, less than 350 murders occurred in New York City, the fewest in 50 years and down from the average of 2,200 in the early 1990’s. Most of these potential murder victims were black. That means thousands of black lives have been saved in the past 20 years by New York’s finest.

So not only is NFL players’ protest against police racism disrespecting our national anthem and the flag for which it stands, their protest is based on a lie. The data validates our police as one of our most trusted American institutions. God bless our police officers.

“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #264

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