October 14, 2020 - Podcast

Episode 45—Impact of race on police discipline, and pandemic dating

Much has been said about conflicts between police officers and the public, particularly people of color. But one study by Indiana University took a look at the differences between discipline within police departments and found Black officers were more frequently disciplined for misconduct than white officers, despite an essentially equal number of allegations. The study, by researchers at IU’s Kelley School of Business, examined racial differences in the disciplining of police officers in three of the largest U.S. cities: Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. In Chicago, researchers found Black officers 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. Allegations of misconduct include lack of service and verbal or physical assault. As part of their work, researchers also assessed whether there are race differences in the number of allegations made against officers. They found no differences in the number of allegations between Black and white officers, results were mixed for Hispanic and Asian officers. Researchers say it is impossible to know whether differences in discipline are due to racial bias versus some other unmeasured factors. However, they say it is noteworthy that the pattern of results is in line with what theories of racial bias would predict and with evidence of racial disparities in punishment in other settings. Organizational leaders need to implement checks to ensure there is no adverse impact in the detection and enforcing of organizational misconduct, researchers say. Just as bias by police against citizens has been very slow to change, it is likely that any bias within police departments will also be slow to change.

In other news, the raging pandemic has upended the dating landscape for singles in America, sparking new romance trends, according to the new Singles in America study by Match.com. For example, an increasing number of people have been romantically engaged with their roommates; people are now requiring masks on the first date; singles are vetting potential suitors via video chats, and they’re more selective about who they’ll give a chance to. Helen Fisher, a chief scientific advisor at Match and an affiliated researcher at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, says there have been unprecedented changes in dating this year. Prior to 2020, she says no one expected that singles would consider a date’s willingness to wear a mask. And with people hunkered down due to the pandemic, the survey found more American adults chose to cozy up with their roommates. In fact, the survey found 41% of singles who were sexually engaged during the pandemic slept with someone they were in lockdown with and a surprising 1 in 4 singles between the ages of 18 to 98 had sex with a non-romantic roommate. Justin Garcia of the Kinsey Institute, is also a scientific advisor at Match. He says people are relying on their social relationships and connections more than before because they provide a feeling comfort and safety. Singles are also using video to vet dates before meeting. A total of 68% of singles used video chats to determine whether someone was worth meeting in person before they would go on a first date with them. In addition to safety around the pandemic, the survey also looked at interracial dating and found 24% of singles are more open to dating someone of a different race or ethnicity. People also want to know where their potential dates stand on topics surrounding race and political beliefs. More than half of singles want to know if their date supports Black Lives Matter. Over the last decade or so, Garcia says, people have become more willing to date interracially. Under the Trump administration, there has been a 25% increase in the number of singles who believe it's important for partners to share the same political beliefs.