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Samuel Sinyangwe
I’ve seen some questions about and the data so I want to clarify the research and intention behind the campaign. Here’s my response. (1/x)
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
I got into this work in 2014 to collect, analyze and utilize data as a tool to end police violence. To honor the demand - stop killing us. That, first and foremost, is what I use to evaluate impact - will a policy or strategy make progress towards that goal or not?
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
The effort to get cities across the country to enact more restrictive use of force policies is a limited, targeted campaign informed by 40 years of research concluding that more restrictive policies reduce killings by police and save lives.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
The idea was to rapidly raise use of force standards in cities across the country to make immediate changes (that don’t increase police budgets) while continuing to support the broader goal of defunding police and scaling up alternatives.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
Some cities are trying to use this for PR - saying they have policies even when they have huge loopholes that don’t meet the standards. I’ll call them out on this publicly and explain how they’re not telling the truth. This isn’t a game to me, this is about life and death.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
Dozens of other cities have moved to adopt standards that can reduce harm. Places like Indianapolis are enacting all eight policies. For the first time Indianapolis PD will be required to use de-escalation, alternatives to deadly force, ban chokeholds etc.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
Now, just because a department has a policy doesn’t mean it’s always enforced or that it always works. 3 of those 4 Minneapolis officers didn’t intervene despite being required to by policy. Policies alone are simply not enough. I agree, they were never meant to be the end goal.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
At the same time, harm reduction is important and you can’t enforce what isn’t against the rules. Without the policies, it would’ve been even more difficult to get these and many other officers fired. Without the standards, accountability isn’t even an option.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
Now, I also want to address critiques of the data/framing. First, I wish we were more clear about this being a small part of a broader ecosystem of demands - demands I support and did not intend to detract from. Reducing police killings is harm reduction, abolition the end goal.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
Also, the framing around one study - mine - could’ve been better. Let me explain the methodology. The study was done in collaboration with statisticians in 2016. We had to fight to get access to police use of force policies from 100 cities - cities don’t usually make them public.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
policies were reviewed and coded according to what the research literature suggested could make a difference (see doc above). I constructed a scale from 0-8 based on how many each department had. And compared that to police killings data tracked by the Guardian.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
The findings were not surprising, they reflected the established research that more restrictive use of force policies like this predict lower rates of police killings. That’s controlling for variables like size of police force, arrests, demographics, threats to officers, etc.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
The cross-city comparison found depts with more of these 8 policies had killed fewer people. Controlling for other factors, there was a 72% difference between the least and the most restrictive ends of 0-8 policy scale. For the average dept it was 54% (since they already had 3).
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
This is the area where more clarity is important. It doesn’t prove causation, it suggests the policies could potentially make a difference. The methodology was what could be done at that scale. Policing data isn’t easy to get or evaluate. We couldn’t do randomized control trials.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
I also couldn’t do pre-post analysis at that scale because I didn’t have all the policies they had over the years. They update them every few yrs. There’s no data on police killings going far back enough in time. But smaller scale pre-post analyses come to similar conclusions.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
And since then we’ve collected even more data. It’s true that some big cities like Baltimore, Philly, Chicago (recently) adopted many of the 8. Those cities have also seen reductions in police shootings after adopting these policies. Harm reduction.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
Gun laws are a useful analogy. States with stronger gun laws have less gun violence. Doesn’t mean the laws cause all of that variation in outcomes - but suggests they might have a real impact. Police violence is often gun violence and stronger restrictions likely matter here too.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
What the overall body of research can tell us with confidence is places with more restrictive use of force policies tend to have fewer people killed by police and killings tend to drop after they’re adopted. There are always limitations to research, its important to lift them up.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
For example, there may be fewer killings by police but it doesn’t tell us about other forms of violence (though studies suggest non-lethal force might be reduced too). Restrictive use of force policies won’t stop stop & frisk or police sexual assault. That too must be addressed.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
It’s called Campaign Zero because I believe we can live in a world where nobody is killed by the state. Zero. I believe we can make this happen, and there are many strategies that will need to happen in tandem. Some strategies more important than others, I hear you on that.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
In this moment, we can and should demand more - be visionary and clear. I support the vision and demands of those in the streets who’ve sacrificed everything. I believe we need to abolish police and replace them with effective alternatives. We can’t let up until this happens.
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Samuel Sinyangwe Jun 6
Replying to @samswey
Those alternatives will take time to build, infrastructure to develop and data to evaluate. And as long as police continue to have any budget at all, they ought to have policies like reducing the harm they cause. I hope we can work on both of these things, together.
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