…Instead of [solely] focusing on police use of force, some researchers are turning their attention to use of language.
…Police officers in Oakland, California, are more likely to speak to white community members with a higher level of respect than black community members. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, used police body camera footage as data.
…”At the very least, this provides evidence for something that communities of color have reported, that this is a real phenomenon,” said Voigt, a doctoral student in the linguistics department at Stanford University.
…For instance, the computer measured how often police officers introduced themselves; used formal titles such as ma’am or sir; used words like please and thank you; apologized, such as saying “sorry to stop you”; and reassured safety, such as saying “drive safe, please” — all of which are utterances that show signs of respect, according to the study.
…After analyzing all of their data, the researchers found that white community members were 57% more likely to hear an officer say one of the most respectful utterances in the dataset, such as apologizing. Black community members were 61% more likely to hear an officer say one of the least respectful utterances, such as informal titles.
What is that I hear? The sounds of the surface being scratched?