Indiana University Study Finds Racial Disparity in the Discipline of Police Officers

A group of six management professors at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business conducted research that shows that in three major U.S. cities, Black police officers were more frequently disciplined for misconduct than White officers, despite an essentially equal number of allegations being leveled.

Using archival data, the researchers found that Black officers in Chicago were disciplined at a 105 percent higher rate than White officers. In Philadelphia, Black officers were 48 percent more likely than White officers to have been disciplined. After controlling for the number of allegations of misconduct, they found that Black officers were disciplined at an even higher rate – 132 percent more often than White officers.

“Just as organizational leaders have implemented policies and procedures to mitigate adverse impact in hiring, they may need to implement checks to ensure that there is no adverse impact in the detection and enforcing of organizational misconduct,” the authors wrote. “Just as bias by police against citizens has been very slow to change, it is likely that any bias within police departments has also been slow to change.”

The full study, “The Race Discipline Gap: A Cautionary Note on Archival Measures of Behavioral Misconduct,” was published on the website of the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. It may be accessed here.


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