Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was severely beaten by five Memphis police officers during a traffic stop in January. Shocking footage of the assault highlights what researchers describe as deeply ingrained racial biases that fuel police brutality. Black drivers are more likely to be stopped by police than white drivers. Once stopped, they are more likely to be searched. And they are much more likely to be killed during a police encounter. Nichols died after he was beaten, and the officers have been charged with murder.
Nicholas Camp is a social psychologist at the University of Michigan who studies racial bias and how it affects police-community interactions. He and his colleagues have used police body camera footage and community surveys to analyze behavior. They have also tested real-life interventions with a police force in a large city, small policy changes that reduced antagonism during traffic stops and also reduced racial inequalities in who gets pulled over. Camp talked with Scientific American about these possible solutions.