The effect of suspect race on police officers’ decisions to draw their weapons

John L. Worrall, Stephen A. Bishopp, William Terrill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Scopus citations


    Researchers are working to identify appropriate benchmarks for exploring racial bias in the officer-involved shooting (OIS) context. Two recent studies benchmarked OIS against incidents in which officers drew weapons but did not shoot. A problem is that the decision to draw a weapon may itself be subject to bias. Using 2017 use-of-force data from the Dallas Police Department, we modeled officers’ decisions to draw their weapons as a function of suspect race and other suspect, officer, and incident characteristics. We benchmarked by limiting analyses to arrest and active aggression cases, thereby excluding interactions in which it was less likely suspects would have had weapons drawn against them. The key finding was that black suspects were no more or less likely to have weapons drawn against them than other suspects.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1428-1447
    Number of pages20
    JournalJustice Quarterly
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - 2021


    • Officer-involved shootings
    • deadly force
    • suspect race
    • use of force

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
    • Law


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