Researchers at the University of Oregon have examined the effects of an increased police presence in Black communities. The university's recent study showed that expanding police forces in mid to major U.S. cities most often leads to a decrease in homicides. Research found that adding 10 to 17 police officers prevents one homicide in both Black and white communities. Furthermore, other violent crimes like burglary, sexual assault and rape also decreased as police presence increased.
“We find evidence that benefits of policing in terms of reduced homicides accrue for both Black and white civilians,” University of Oregon professor W.E. Minor said.
“We see more reductions in homicide as more police are added. However, the reductions are not nearly as large in the cities with the largest Black populations.”
While violent crimes decreased, arrests for non-violent crimes increased. Unfortunately, the burden of these arrests fell on Black communities at a 70% higher rate than their white counterparts.
This recent comes amid a national debate regarding the "Defund The Police" movement. Through this debate, researchers examined the records of 242 cities from 1981 to 2018 with populations greater than 50,000.
“Based upon the historical opportunity cost of police employment, our estimates suggest that ‘defunding’ the police could result in more deaths, especially in among Black Americans,” researchers wrote.
“It’s impossible to know what the effects will be of replacing investments in police manpower with investments in other forms of crime control or in urban renewal. This is simply not a strategy that has been tested by any major city in the modern era. Research can tell us about what is true in the past, but it can’t predict the future.”
Despite the assertions of Oregon researchers, there is precedent for revamping police forces in mid to major cities. The city of Camden revamped its police force in 2012 and saw homicides drop by 25% in 2019. Moving forward, major cities like Los Angeles have passed legislation to "Defund The Police" like Measure J. The future of the "Defund The Police" movement is unclear, but the results have been promising thus far.
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