Black people not calling 911 over fears of police brutality
The findings came after studying the effects of the 2004 killing of Frank Jude Jr. at the hands of Milwaukee police. Jude was being beaten by off-duty police officers who suspected him of stealing a police badge from a party, and when 911 was called, responding officers only joined in on the beating.
It’s one of the city’s worst examples of police brutality, and it has deeply affected the trust that the black community has for law enforcement.
“Something like the Frank Jude case tears the fabric apart so deeply and de-legitimizes the criminal justice system in the eyes of the African-American community that they stop relying on it in significant numbers,” the study’s lead author Matthew Desmond told the Journal Sentinel.
The study, called “Police Violence and Citizen Crime Reporting in the Black Community,” found that 911 calls did not drop immediately after Jude’s death but instead dropped after the Journal Sentinel ran the story along with an image of Jude’s badly beaten and bloodied face.
After that, even controlling for crime and other such factors, calls dropped by 22,000, with 56 percent of the drop coming from the black community.
“That is a huge effect and it symbolizes that these are not isolated incidents because they don’t have isolated effects, they have community-wide effects and those effects can actually make the city less safe by driving down crime reporting and thwarting public safety efforts,” Desmond said.
What’s more, at the same time calls were dropping, murders spiked, with 87 murders reported in the six months after Jude’s death was reported.