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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Police 607, People 71

The police appear to be winning, but the American public is actually ahead on a per capita basis:
In 2011, according to data I have collected, police officers in the United States shot 1,146 people, killing 607. Since January 1, 2011, I have been using the internet to compile a national database of police involved shootings. The term "police involved shooting" pertains to law enforcement officers who, in the line of duty, discharge their guns. When journalists and police administrators use the term, they include the shooting of animals and shots that miss their targets. My case files only include instances in which a person is either killed or wounded by police gunfire. My data also includes off-duty officers who discharged their weapons in law enforcement situations. They don't include, for example, officers using their firearms to resolve personal disputes....

In 2010, 59 officers were shot to death among 122 killed while on the job. This marked a 20 percent jump from 2009 when 49 officers were killed by gunfire. In 2011, 173 officers died, from all causes, in the line of duty. The fact police officers feel they are increasingly under attack from the public may help explain why they are shooting so many citizens.
The 2011 figure is 71 officers shot to death. Of course, since there are 310 million Americans and only 800,000 police, this would tend to indicate that the public is winning even though the police are killing 8.55 citizens for every police officer killed.

The interesting thing is that we seldom hear anywhere nearly as much opposition to police killings as we do to the death penalty, even though 18 times more people are killed by police than are executed on an annual basis. Since only 33 people were executed throughout the USA in 2011, compared to the 607 who were shot and killed without trial, it would appear that death penalty opponents would do much better to protest lethally armed police than lethal judicial judgments.

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