In the U.S., police killings of citizens is a common occurrence. In fact, U.S. police kill more people in days than some countries do in years (Lartey 2015). The extent of the issue is not restricted to this fact, however. Let us look at this conundrum in depth.
By the account of statistics, the U.S. in an outlier when it comes to police killings. To look at the scale of the problem properly, one can compare the city of Baltimore and the whole of country of England, including Wales. Baltimore has a population of 622,000, whereas England and Wales has a combined population of 56 million. The staggering point in all this is that between 2010-2014, there were only 62 people that died in police custody in England and Wales, whereas in Baltimore, 31 people died in the same time period. This makes it 50 times more likely to be killed by police in Baltimore than in England and Wales combined (News 2017). Another startling fact is that “In the first 24 days of 2015, police in the US fatally shot more people than police did in England and Wales, combined, over the past 24 years” (Lartey 2015).
Now let us move onto more detailed information. According to the Washington Post, which keeps a count of every police killing in the U.S., “More than half of the people shot and killed by police were armed with a gun, while 1 in 20 were unarmed” (Washington Post). This shows that weapons were involved in the majority of cases, however 1 in 20 people being killed by police when they are unarmed in still unnerving, especially when 963 people were killed in 2016 by police. That comes out to about 48 people killed last year who were unarmed and caused no immediate threat to the police. That is more people killed by the police in some countries for years (Washington Post).
What is perhaps even more disturbing is that the U.S. police force hardly ever get convicted for their fatal crimes. For example, in South Carolina, officers have shot at civilians 210 times in the last five years without a single officer being convicted (Howard, Greg). This trend appears in most states in the U.S., where no or hardly any police officers get tried for their crimes. This means that police have the leverage to outweigh the law that regular citizens abide by.
Though the amount of police killings in the U.S. are atrocious, the rate at which people are being slaughtered by the police is only rising. According to the FBI, the rate of justifiable homicides by law enforcement using a firearm has risen steadily since the year 2000, and that is only the justifiable cases (Contorno, Steve). In the last two years, as a measure of overall killings by the police, 995 people were fatally shot by the police in 2015 and 963 people were fatally shot in 2016 (Washington Post).
There seems to be no end in sight when it comes to slowing down the rate of law enforcement homicide in the U.S. Though the U.S. has more police killings than any other country in the world, President Donald Trump wants to further militarize the police (Jarrett, Laura). Maybe it is time for the U.S. government to consider the widespread retraining of officers, and the demilitarization of police. Either this, or the law enforcement of the U.S. will continue its terror upon the citizens they have sworn to protect.
Lartey, Jamiles. “By the numbers: US police kill more in days than other countries do in years.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 June 2015, www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/the-counted-police-killings-us-vs-other-countries. Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.
News, Daily. “American police kill civilians at a shocking rate compared to other developed countries.” Daily News, Daily News, 28 Aug. 2017, www.dailynews.com/2015/05/04/american-police-kill-civilians-at-a-shocking-rate-compared-to-other-developed-countries/. Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.
“Police Shootings 2016 Database.” The Washington Post, WP Company, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2016/.
Howard, Greg. “The Police Are America’s Terrorists.” The Concourse, theconcourse.deadspin.com/the-police-are-americas-terrorists-1696463523.
Contorno, Steve. “Are Deaths from Police Shootings the Highest in 20 Years?” @Politifact, www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/dec/03/marc-morial/are-deaths-police-shootings-highest-20-years/.
Jarrett, Laura. “Trump to Lift Military Gear Ban for Local Police.” CNN, Cable News Network, 28 Aug. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/08/28/politics/police-military-gear-ban-lifted/index.html.