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There is a big disparity in who is likeliest to die from a police killing. A black person, like George Floyd, is three times as likely to be killed as a white person. 

File photo Police yelling : Police unions can be credited with helping officers receive higher pay, better benefits and improved working conditions. But many of these same unions have also often defended bad police and bad policing. They have often hurt reform efforts. The widespread civil unrest over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has helped to shine a spotlight on police brutality.

Every year, more than a thousand people are killed by a police officer in the United States. This is many more people than are killed in other countries with similarly advanced economies. And within the U.S., there is also a big disparity in who is likeliest to die from a police killing. A black person, like George Floyd, is three times as likely to be killed as a white person. 

Economist Rob Gillezeau studies the history of police killings and the protests that often result from them. He and his co-authors, Jamein Cunningham and Donna Feir, have been collecting data on how police unionization has affected police violence against civilians. 

Though the paper isn’t out yet, its findings are clear: After police officers gained access to collective bargaining rights, there was a substantial increase in the killings of civilians — overwhelmingly, nonwhite civilians. 

Today on the show, we talk to Rob about his research and the troubling consequences of police unionization.

NPR

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