A Saint Louis University professor’s solutions-oriented research on police shootings of black males

Jan 12, 2016

Black males are 21 times more likely than white males to be killed by a police officer. With statistics like these in mind, a Saint Louis University professor and public health researcher has recently proposed concrete steps to reduce police shootings of black males in the Journal of Urban Health.

Keon Gilbert, DrPH, joined “St. Louis on the Air” on Tuesday to discuss those steps and what people can do, even with limited resources, to reduce the number of black males killed by police. He co-authored the paper with Rashawn Ray, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland.

Gilbert, who has done work with the For the Sake of All project, considers these shooting deaths as a public health issue.

“It’s a public health issue because people are dying. People are getting hurt. Because this is a cause of death, it is really important for us to think about the underlying mechanisms that lead to this.”

Here are his recommendations:

  1. Collecting and analyzing data to drive policy decisions
  2. Repealing stop and frisk laws and re-evaluating stand your ground laws based on evidence that racial biases influence how these laws are implemented
  3. Requiring police officers to use body cameras to document incidents
  4. Establishing community review boards to improve relations between police and local residents
  5. Recognizing and fighting prejudice
  6. Offering mental and preventive health services to communities plagued with high levels of violence  and policing

Listen to Gilbert discuss why implementing measures like these will help reduce the number of black males shot by police going forward:

“The way our society has been structured, in terms of how people grow up and how people interact, when you live in segregated communities, when you live in communities that are predominantly black or predominantly white, you don’t have the social interactions with one another to understand how people operate and how they move,” said Gilbert. “That adds to not only the fear but the mischaracterization of people who live in high-crime areas.”

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh, and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.