Correlation is not causation, and the data-set is awfully small (39 incidents), but computational epidemiologist Maimuna Majumder is working with what's available, because the federal government won't fund research into gun fatalities, and does not require states to gather data on police use of force.
Majumder says that multivariate linear regression showed that a black person's likelihood of being shot by the police goes up in places where black voter registration is low. Other indicators of social injustice -- large gaps between the rich and poor -- were correlated with police shootings; while more diverse states generally had lower rates of police shootings of people of color.
What does this all mean? In addition to promoting diversity and reducing income inequality, these preliminary results suggest that increasing voter registration among black Americans could potentially reduce the risk of fatal police shootings of black victims.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Minority groups are routinely excluded from voter registration drives due to higher rates of unlisted individuals. Furthermore, most states require voters to register several weeks before Election Day—a practice that disproportionately suppresses minority registrants. (Voter registration remains open in most states ahead of Election Day 2016; check whether you’re registered to vote here.)
Despite controlling for several socioeconomic variables, these results don’t conclusively imply causation. But they’re a reasonable starting point. Expanding on that knowledge and finding other potentially actionable strategies will require reframing the issue as a public health crisis, with a focus on data-driven research and policy recommendations.
An Intriguing Link Between Police Shootings and Black Voter Registration [Maimuna Majumder/Wired]
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