Analytics at Wharton


How Data Science Can Win the Debate on Police Reform

The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile and a number of other Black citizens who have lost their lives during an interaction with law enforcement officers have put the topic of police reform at the top of the national agenda. The phrase “defund the police” became a rallying cry across many American cities over the summer as protesters marched for social justice. But police reform isn’t as simple as a catchphrase. Two scholars who have been studying the issue for years say solving the problem starts with better data.

Dean Knox, is a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, and Jonathan Mummolo is a professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton. They’ve published several papers on racial bias in policing and, with the help of Analytics at Wharton, co-founded Research on Policing Reform and Accountability, an organization dedicated to bringing academic rigor and science to what is often a very emotional debate. Knox and Mummolo recently spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about their research and what decision-makers can do to effect change.