New research suggests that changes in police agency educational requirements could save lives.

The study is unique because it’s one of the first studies to explore the nexus of officer education and victim race, says Thad Johnson, assistant professor of criminology at Georgia State University.

Repeated incidents of deadly officer-involved shootings have sparked both outrage and protests across the US over the past several years. What many of these incidents share in common is the race of the victim and the fact that they were unarmed.

According to the Washington Post, more than 1,000 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year, and the rate at which Black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for their white counterparts.

“Until now, investigations of racial differences regarding the education level of officers on police-caused fatalities have been virtually nonexistent,” Johnson explains.

In the new study published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, Johnson and his colleagues looked at data from multiple law enforcement databases from 235 large US cities between 2000 and 2016. They found that college degree requirements are linked to significant reductions in police-related fatalities involving Black and unarmed citizens. The work suggests that mandating at least an associate degree for entry-level officers could lower the number of Black people killed by police by as much as three times.

Read the full article about education requirements for police by Noelle Toumey Reetz at Futurity.