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St. Louis police use force more against Blacks, study finds

ST. LOUIS (AP) — City police used force against Black people more than three times as often as they did on white people, according to a study released Thursday.

The California-based, nonprofit research group Center for Policing Equity examined police report data from 2012 to 2019 and also found that in 9 out of 10 times when police pulled out a gun, it was at a Black civilian.

The overall use of force dropped by 18%, but police still used used force more often against Black people, the report said.

“What we typically hear from police officers is that use of force happens predominantly in areas with high crime,” said Hans Menos, vice president of law enforcement initiatives at the center. “So we try to control using neighborhood-level demographics, and even after controlling for that, the number [of Black people who have force used against them] is still higher.”

Mayor Tishaura Jones said eliminating racial disparities in policing was key to making St. Louis safer for all of its residents.

Outgoing Police Chief John Hayden said this kind of research could bring about scrutiny and questions about policing practices.

“However, we embrace the challenge to do better and consider all suggestions from professionals, community stakeholders and citizens,” Hayden said.

Census data as of 2019 show the city of St. Louis was about 46 percent Black and 44 percent white, not Hispanic or Latino.

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