In 2014, the City of Oakland contracted a team of researchers led by Partnership member Jennifer Eberhardt to assist its police force in complying with a federal order. The Oakland Police Department (OPD) had to collect and analyze data on officers’ self-initiated stops of pedestrians and vehicles by race. Utilizing footage from police body-worn cameras, this work led, among other things, to ground-breaking research on racial bias in police stops.
For part of the time Eberhardt’s team was researching the OPD, filmmaker Peter Nicks was shooting footage of his own, chronicling the department’s reform efforts. The result, for Nicks, was The Force, a documentary released in theaters this month.
Over the past few years, police-involved shootings have garnered a great deal of attention and moved people around the country to speak out and act. During a panel discussion following a screening of The Force, Eberhardt described her role in this debate. “I'm not a filmmaker,” she said. “I'm not a faith leader, I'm not a deputy chief, I'm a researcher and that's how we fight. That's how we address these social issues, by looking at data and sharing our findings with the public.”
You can read a summary of the discussion on the Emerson Collective’s website.