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Police Violence Tied To Sleep Loss, Taser Injuries To Blacks

The effect of police violence on Black Americans is tracked in two new studies, with one tying police-involved deaths to sleep disturbances and the other finding a racial gap in injuries involving police use of Tasers, the Associated Press reports. The health effects of police violence on Black people “need to be documented as a critical first step to reduce these harms,” editors of JAMA Internal Medicine wrote in an editorial published Monday. In the sleep study, researchers looked at responses from more than 2 million people from 2013 through 2019 in two large government surveys. They focused on people’s reports of sleep in the months after police-involved killings of unarmed Black people. They found a pattern of sleep disturbances, particularly getting less than six hours of sleep, in Black people — but not among white people — in the six months following a police-involved killing.

This type of study cannot prove cause and effect. The researchers made adjustments for age, sex, education and other factors that might account for differences and still found the pattern of more sleep disturbance reports from Black people after police-involved deaths. “Discrimination can manifest in all sorts of ways, one of which is unequal exposure to police use of force,” said Dr. Atheendar Venkataramani of the University of Pennsylvania, who led the study. Poor sleep can raise “the lifetime risk of a number of diseases, as well as the risk of early death.” The other study found racial disparities in injuries that occurred when Tasers and similar weapons were used by police to incapacitate people. It was the first comprehensive national analysis of such injuries using emergency department data. The study was possible because of a new medical code, added in late 2019, denoting law enforcement-related use of Tasers and similar weapons.


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