Towards the end of 2014 and beginning months of 2015 it seemed as if police shootings were starting to become a more frequent occurrence. For several months, it was a consistency across all media sources, story after story. Currently, as of November 4th, (around 10 am), 829 people have been shot dead by police here in the United States, just this year alone.
With extremely advanced media technology today, these events have erupted across media sources in a matter of minutes. According to what gets placed into the news, it seems as if blacks are seen as the main targets for police shootings, seeing as it gets more attention. Surprisingly, that is not the scenario. Compared to blacks, whites are more likely to be killed by the police. Approximately, 48% (398) of those killed by police in 2015 have been a white person, whereas 25% (211) have been a black person. In comparison to states so far California (150) has the highest number of deaths on civilians caused by police. Here in the state of Washington 14 have been killed by police. To one’s surprise there are two states in the United States which have no record of a police officer killing a civilian (Washington Post, 2015).
Compared to other countries, the United States statistically rates enormously higher than the rest in the number of deaths caused by police. Police in the United States are taught to shoot center mass, whereas European countries police are taught to aim for the knee caps or shoot at the suspects’ feet; essentially wound and not kill the suspect. Also, some European countries do not allow for police to carry a gun. Without a doubt police work is a highly stressful profession, so not having some source of protection in a heated confrontation would be an uneasy scenario. So if some countries have been successful with this method, why is the United States not? As of June of 2015, England and Wales have had “55 fatal police shootings in 24 years, whereas in 24 days (from January 1- January 24, 2015), there have been 59 fatal police shootings in the United States” (Lartey, 2015). In some cases, the United States has had thousands of individuals killed by police, whereas some countries have only recorded a handful of deaths over fifty plus years. Another prime example is, here in the United States there has been over eight-hundred deaths of a civilian by police in just a little over ten months, whereas in the United Kingdom (England and Wales) has only recorded two deaths the entire year thus far. Just five months into 2015, in Stockton, California, “three people were fatally shot by police, however over 71 years Iceland has only recorded one” (Lartey, 2015).
- Do you think police shootings have risen over the past year or two?
- Why does it seem like police shootings have become a major issue in recent events? Could it be that once one shooting gets into the news, then it seems like that is all the media wants to display or talk about?
- If the United States were to change their police tactics to those like other countries (not aiming center mass for example), do you think the number of people killed by police would decrease?
- If police work is an extremely stressful profession, how is it that other countries are able to have such lower police cause deaths compared to the United States? Could it be a population differential? Could it be the militarization training and mentality of “shoot to kill?”
Washington Post (2015). Retrieved: (November 3, 2015). https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/
Jamiles Lartey. (June 9, 2015). “By the numbers: US police kill more in days than other countries do in years.” The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/the-counted-police-killings-us-vs-other-countries. Retrieved: November 3, 2015.