The incidence of people dying due to use of force by the police is a high profile issue at the moment. Figures about the distribution of these deaths, such as found in this paper, can be compared to population statistics to demonstrate how different demographics are affected at different rates to those of the general population.

We can also compare the demographics of the officers involved in these deaths (table 6) to the demographics of the police force as a whole, and see the features that are overrepresented. For example 67% of police are white but 84.3% of officers involved with the deaths are, indicating a hazard ratio of 2. However the largest effect I have found is that of sex, in that males make up 84.9% of police but account for 97.4% of deaths, indicating a hazard ratio of 5.8.

Does this represent the true risk, in that your chance of dying in an encounter with the police is nearly 6 times greater if that police officer is male compared to female, or is there another explanation? For example, a policy of assigning female officers to lower risk areas or roles would explain this observation.

  • The study uses the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System and the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System. It is purely focused on the deaths that happened, it makes no speculation about what would happen without police. This question is focused on the characteristics of the police, not those who died. If there was any indication about the cause of the downvotes I may be able to do something about it.
    – Dave
    May 2, 2021 at 17:37
  • Your question is fine if it wasn't based on a specific group's conflict with the police, and suggested the conclusion that there were problems with the police based solely on that conflict. You might need to edit your write-up to include evidence of the conflict between the police and the entire society as a whole to justify your question. Also, include examples that female officers cause less policing problems and death than male.
    – r13
    May 2, 2021 at 18:11
  • Do you mean that using the example of the rate at which black people die from police use of force in the 1st paragraph makes the whole thing "based on a specific group's conflict with the police"? I included it to show how these numbers are commonly used, not to indicate that that is in any way related to the question, and have now edited it. I do not think examples would help, this is a question about the numbers in aggregate. I cannot imagine what the examples you ask for would be, I do not have them.
    – Dave
    May 2, 2021 at 18:21
  • To me, those number is twisted but been used to justify the need in improving the relationship and image of police with that group. It has nothing to do with your question if you don't bother to broaden the scope.
    – r13
    May 2, 2021 at 18:30
  • 2
    This seems like a question that is intended to push a point. Underrepresentation of women could be a dangerous thing, but the question seems framed to suggest that police brutality and police racism are, at most, minor problems in comparison.
    – Obie 2.0
    May 2, 2021 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


I see no reason to doubt the results of this study, though I'll admit I haven't done due diligence and critically examined their methodology (subtle methodological errors are the main source of misinformation in academic journal papers...). It also conforms to population norms, in which men are far more likely to commit violent crimes than women, by factors ranging from 2:1 to 4:1. See FBI stats and this law review.

I suspect the somewhat larger '6 times' factor in policing is due to:

  • A general tendency among female officers to communicate and de-escalate in tense situations, where male officers first tend to try to establish dominance and control
  • The comparatively low numbers of female officers, and the relative newness of women in policing, which speaks to a more idealism among female officers than male officers
  • 3
    “I suspect the somewhat larger ‘6 times’ factor in policing is due to:” What makes you suspect this? What evidence do you have to back this up? Right now those two bullet points look somewhat sexist and also have zero proof. May 2, 2021 at 21:51
  • 1
    Well one could argue that not many women want to become police officers in the first place, and the few that do decide to take on the job are more motivated to act according to what they think an ideal police officer should act.
    – Ray
    May 3, 2021 at 2:08
  • 7
    Or maybe female police officers simply don't deal with extremely dangerous situations as often as male officers. Boys are often taught to treat girls more softly, so it's possible female police officers get "assigned" less dangerous tasks in general. See tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15614263.2018.1468258
    – Ray
    May 3, 2021 at 2:41
  • 1
    @TedWrigley I somewhat disagree with 1st point (as of now). Also, you were already required to back up what you say in answers (see this and also this) May 3, 2021 at 12:34
  • 1
    @TedWrigley here’s some evidence that the second point is (kinda? You said “relative newness” which can be interpreted many different ways) false (this site says women have been in the police force for 131-ish years, and this site says the US police force has been around for 230 years, I wouldn’t call that relative newness. As for the first bullet point, as far as I can tell, you’re correct. I still believe you should cite sources, but I’ll stop arguing that for now :) May 3, 2021 at 14:01

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