The large policing footprint, particularly affecting Black Americans, is in part a failed response to racial disparities in serious crimes, says a new report from the Sentencing Project. The report says that the large police footprint across communities of people of color is at odds with advancing safety because excessive police contact often fails to intercept serious criminal activity and diminishes the perceived legitimacy of law enforcement. The report says excessive policing distracts policymakers from making investments to promote community safety without the harms caused by policing and incarceration. The report found that Black Americans were 9.3 times as likely as whites to be homicide victims in 2020, American Indians were 4.3 times as likely, and Latinx people were 1.9 times as likely, based on age-adjusted figures.
Because homicide is generally an intra-racial crime, data reflect higher rates of homicide offending among communities of color, which the group attributes to spatially-concentrated urban poverty resulting from longstanding and ongoing segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment. Growing protests and calls for change after George Floyd’s killing have accelerated reforms in policing and in later stages of the legal system. The report identifies several key reforms to right-size policing, as well as resistance. It lists the prohibition of non-public safety police traffic stops, alternative first responder approaches, legalization of marijuana, violence prevention programs, universal access to drug drug treatment and more. However, the report cited setbacks such as the return of police officers to school campuses and greater policing of "crimes of poverty." Political fear-mongering, police union lobbying, and misleading media coverage exacerbate this backsliding, The Sentencing Project said.