Reseachers Report Police Officers Treat Black & White Men Differently

Disparity in treatment between Black and White men by police officers was recently reported by researchers this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  Social psychologist, Nicholas Camp from the University of Michigan was the lead author of the new study.  Camp and his colleagues analyzed more than 100 hours of police body cam footage and concluded that officers’ language was less respectful toward Black residents than their white peers.

Sources report 

In a previous study by Camp, when compared with white residents, Black community members were 57% less likely to hear the officer use words such as “sir,” “ma’am” and “thank you” and 61% more likely to hear words such as “dude” and “bro” and commands such as “hands on the wheel.”  

For the new paper, Camp and his colleagues focused not on what officers said, but how they said it.

The scientists analyzed hundreds of audio clips — each roughly 10 seconds long — from routine traffic stops of Black or white men. The researchers filtered out the high frequencies of the sound clips, which essentially rendered the clips unintelligible but left the tone of voice intact. They also masked the drivers’ voices with “brown noise,” so that anyone hearing the clip would not be able to guess the motorists’ race.

The researchers then asked more than 400 people — a diverse group of white, Latino, Asian and Black volunteers — to listen to the clips and rate the officers’ tone of voice.

Across the board, clips of officers speaking to Black men got lower marks for friendliness, respectfulness and ease than those of officers speaking to white men — even though the listeners were not aware of the drivers’ race.

What are your thoughts on the study?

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