Police Violence


Remster, Brianna, Chris M. Smith, and Rory Kramer. In press. “Race, Gender, and Police Violence in the Shadow of Controlling Images.” Social Problems. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/socpro/spac018.

Despite the emergence of the #SayHerName movement alongside #BlackLivesMatter, research on police encounters is rarely intersectional and has largely neglected the potentially violent consequences of gendered and racialized “controlling images.” Using New York City investigatory stop data (2007–2014), and drawing on controlling images theory, our analysis shows that Black men and women experience higher rates of police violence than White men and women. Within race, analyses indicate that Black men experience more police violence than Black women. The same gender gap exists for Whites, Asians, and Latinx persons, suggesting that broad cultural perceptions of femininity and masculinity shape police violence. However, these gendered frames mostly dissolve in instances of potentially fatal violence, as we find no gender differences within race or ethnicity in these extreme cases with one excep- tion: police point their guns at Black men slightly more than at Black women. Further, the controlling image criminalizing Black men casts a long shadow—police are more likely to use violence on individuals stopped in the company of a Black man across gender, race, and ethnicity. This study provides a comprehensive, intersectional analysis of police encounters, both reaffirming and extending controlling images to understand why race, ethnicity, and gender disparities in state violence experiences persist.

Public Sociology

Smith, Chris M. 2023. “In the New York City Police’s Stop-and-Frisk Era, Black Men, and Those with Them, Were Much More Likely to Have a Gun Pointed at Them.” The London School of Economics’ Phelan United States Centre. USAPP American Politics and Policy Blog, February 15.

In the early 2000s, the New York City Police Department made extensive use of the stop-and-frisk policy, with over 685,000 stops being made at the policy’s peak in 2011. In new research, Chris M. Smith and colleagues find that Black men were disproportionately more likely to have a gun drawn and pointed at them during these stops, and that for Black women and white and Latinx men and women, just being in the presence of a Black man increased their chances of having a police gun drawn on them as well. She writes that while the stop-and-frisk policy was ruled to be in unconstitutional in 2013, New York City’s Mayor, Eric Adams’s new tough on crime policies may signal a return to similarly discriminatory policies.

Smith, Chris M., and Matthew J. Thompson. 2019. “How California is Leading the Way in Gathering and Publicizing Data on the Use of Force by Police.” Scholars Strategy Network Key Findings Brief, March 14.

Thompson, Matthew J., and Chris M. Smith. 2017. “Citizen Science and Crowdsourced Data Collection, not Government Statistics, Provide the Most Reliable Count of Citizen Fatalities by Police.” The London School of Economics’ Phelan United States Centre. USAPP American Politics and Policy Blog, May 5.

In 2016 one thousand ninety-two civilians were killed by the police in the United States. When civilians die during police encounters they lose not only their right to due process, but also their chance to be counted. Matthew J. Thompson and Chris M. Smith argue that since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014, more is known about fatal police violence than ever before due to an increase not in official government statistics but in citizen crowdsourced data collection.

Press Mention

Insight with Beth Ruyak, Capital Public Radio, 2018

The California Aggie, 2018

Sociology Toolbox, 2016