Project Title: Police Homicides in America

Faculty Sponsor: Jeremiah Olson

Department: Political Science



Project Description: 

While the use of deadly force by police officers is a controversial, highly publicized subject, statistical data on police homicides is lacking. Not all killings by the police are reported, and it is difficult to know how many people are killed by the police and under what circumstances. There are a handful of crowd source databases on police killings (Wikipedia, Fatal, etc), but it is difficult to know how accurate these sources are.

By using newspaper searches, we can identify some of the unreported police homicides. We can also gain greater context on individual cases. The main research questions for this project are:

  1. Are there common factors in police homicides? Is there a demographic profile that is common in police shootings?
  2. How accurate are crowd sourced databases on police homicides? 

Student Tasks & Responsibilities: The student's main tasks will be finding, evaluating and coding newspaper articles related to police homicides. The student will do an in depth analysis of 5-10 police homicides, so that we have a sample of incidences. The student will also check the accuracy of crowd sourced databases on police homicides, by verifying if the incidences listed in the databases are legitimately sourced. The student will also collect additional variables such as the address where the shooting took place, so that I can analyze neighborhood features common in police homicides. 

Minimum Student Qualifications: The student should be able to manage Excel files, conduct internet searches and code data.