Collins Conference Room
  US Mountain Time
Rajiv Sethi (Columbia University; Santa Fe Institute External Professor)

This event is private.

Abstract. Police officers in the United States currently kill about eleven hundred civilians annually. In contrast, police in Germany kill fewer than ten a year, and those in England and Wales kill about two. This talk will examine recent data on police homicides in the US, with particular attention to the geographic distribution of incidents and the racial composition of victims. About one-third of victims are African American in the aggregate data, but there are significant differences across cities and states. For instance, whites are more likely to face lethal force in Houston than blacks are in New York City, and in New Mexico, which is the state with the highest rate of lethal force in the nation, no black civilians were killed in 2015 or 2016. I consider and evaluate two competing hypotheses that seek to account for the data, and discuss the possibility that Simpson’s paradox may be relevant for understanding the patterns that we see. Some historical context is provided with reference to the 1968 Kerner Commission Report and the Carnegie-Myrdal study of the 1930s.

The talk will draw on material from Shadows of Doubt: Stereotypes, Crime and the Pursuit of Justice, written jointly with Brendan O’Flaherty (Harvard University Press, forthcoming in 2019).

Research Collaboration
SFI Host: 
Sam Bowles