Advocates of proactive policing model argue that stopping and searching law abiding citizens is a minor inconvenience. However, researchers from Florida State University have found it might actually be getting under the skin of black men—literally.
In a new study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, FSU researchers found a strong link between unfair treatment by police and telomere length, a biological indicator of psychological stress.
Michael McFarland, assistant professor of sociology, and his team surveyed 262 black men and 252 white men in Nashville and found black men were significantly more likely than white men to report unfair treatment by police toward themselves or others.
After controlling for a number of factors, 51.2 percent of black men reported personal or vicarious unfair treatment by police compared to 22 percent of white men.
Researchers also took blood samples from participants to get a measure of average telomere length. Telomeres are found on the end of chromosomes and protect DNA integrity. The length of telomeres reflects psychological stress, with shorter telomeres being an indication of higher levels of stress.