I am writing regarding the April 9 story, “When cops shoot: A closer look at why police fire their weapons in Florida.” Over several careers, I was instrumental in creating and analyzing statistical reports.
Several times, the story stated that African Americans make up about 15 percent of the population, but are almost half of the victims of police shootings. It also states that African Americans are eight times more likely to get shot by police than white people. However, the article failed to address the fact that most of the shootings of African Americans occur in areas with a much greater percentage of African Americans than the nation as a whole. Ferguson, Mo., for example, is a majority African American/minority city.
Most large cities, and much of South Florida, have areas where African Americans and other minorities make up a disproportionately high percentage of the population. Consequently, in those areas, they’re probably not eight times more likely to get shot than white people. Not even four times as likely, as part of the story suggested.
Using other “statistical” data may very well show that we probably won’t hear of many police shootings involving black people in places like the Dakotas, Idaho or Montana either.
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I would venture to guess that in those places, white people are much more likely to get shot by police than black folks. Statistics are fine, but meaningless when used out of context.
Bob Reyes, Homestead