June 29, 2015

America's record breaking police kill rate

NY Daily News - Journalists with both the Washington Post and the Guardian are organizing an important databases of fatal police shootings with information about the victims’ age, gender, location, race, and other circumstances. This is a tremendous step to shed light on the understudied question of how many people police kill.

 The overall homicide rate is 5 per 100,000... Although official statistics have historically been scant, we now know that police killed 1,100 Americans in 2014 and 476 Americans in the first five months of 2015. Given that America has roughly 765,000 sworn police officers, that means the police-against-citizen kill rate is more than 145 per 100,000.

In most countries in Europe the national homicide rate is 1 per 100,000, so that means American police kill at 145 times the rate of the average European citizen. The two most violent countries in the world are Venezuela and Honduras with national homicide rates of 54 and 90 per 100,000.

The American police kill rate also compares poorly to the police kill rates in other countries. Nationwide in England and Wales, Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries police average killing less than two people per year, giving police kill rates between a high of 9 per 100,000 in Denmark and a low of 1.6 per 100,000 in England and Wales. That means American police are killing citizens at a rate 15 times higher than police in Denmark and 90 times higher than police in England and Wales. For the first quarter of 2015, police in England and Wales have shot and killed a total of zero people, whereas American police killed 392 citizens in that time period. That rate is 205 kills per 100,000 police, infinitely higher than the zero in the land we once rebelled against for having standing armies on our soil. Last year police in Japan killed zero and police in Iceland reportedly have killed one person in their entire history.

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