PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – According to a new study, white police officers are slower to shoot black suspects when subjected to realistic situations.
The University of Washington – Spokane and St. Louis criminologist David Klinger conducted the research.
The found that when seated at computers, white police officers in a test group were quicker to press a button labeled “shoot” at images of armed blacks than armed whites.
But the study also showed that when holding guns, in realistic situations, the same officers were faster to shoot whites.
The findings suggest that while white officers may have an “implicit bias” to associate blacks more quickly with danger, they took longer to react, researcher Lois James told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The report shows that in realistic situations, the officers waited about a quarter of a second longer to shoot armed black men than white.
It also showed that officers fired by mistake on unarmed white men three times more often than black.
The study has been posted online in the Criminology and Public Policy Journal, and will appear in print in May.
The study surveyed some 80 police officers using videos that Klinger designed.
Researchers hope the study will stimulate discussions and training.