Realistic count of homicides by police = about 1100 per year

…The U.S. government doesn’t track how many people are killed by the police. The FBI tracks “justifiable” police homicides, which it reports to be about 400 per year, but that tally is an undercount.

Given this vacuum, attention has recently turned to some excellent nongovernmental attempts to compile this data, including the Fatal Encounters database, the recently created Gun Violence Archive and a new database created by Deadspin.

But one recent effort stood out for its apparent comprehensiveness: The Killed By Police Facebook page, which aggregates links to news articles on police-related killings and keeps a running tally on the number of victims. The creator of the page does not seek to determine whether police killings are justifiable; each post “merely documents the occurrence of a death.” He told FiveThirtyEight that he was an instructor on nonviolent physical-intervention techniques and that he prefers to remain anonymous.

Killed by Police had listed more than 1,450 deaths caused by law-enforcement officers since its launch, on May 1, 2013, through Sunday. That works out to about three per day, or 1,100 a year.

The page doesn’t claim that this is a comprehensive count, but it could be useful — like the count from the FBI’s annual Supplementary Homicide Report is useful — for setting a baseline number of police killings, as long as important caveats are acknowledged. For one, any database drawn from news sites relies on the assumption that the reports are accurate…

RTFA for an interesting examination of how the folks at fivethirtyeight.com went about their statistical task. They’re one of the most reliable, self-checking survey sources in the nation along with the Pew Foundation.

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4 comments

  1. xmatman

    There are some who say the most dangerous street gang in their neighborhood hides behind the moniker: To Protect and Serve. They just might be right?

  2. Hands up

    See also “Where More Americans Die at the Hands of Police” http://www.citylab.com/crime/2014/08/where-more-americans-die-at-the-hands-of-police/379067/ {note picture worth thousand words} re: average annual arrest-related deaths per million state residents; not counting the District of Columbia (since it’s entirely urban) Arizona leads with 5.2 deaths per million, followed by New Mexico (4.1 deaths per 1 million), Florida (3.9 deaths) and Texas (3.9 deaths).
    There were 11 deaths in or following police custody in England and Wales during 2013/2014 according to
    figures published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on July 15th. http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/deaths-or-following-police-custody-continue-fall-mental-health-remains-issue

  3. Randall Adams

    “Killer Cop” Competition Comes to Albuquerque http://lajicarita.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/killer-cop-competition-comes-to-albuquerque/ The National Police Shooting Championship includes “events with names such as “head shots only”, based on the NRA’s premise that police officers need to “incorporate head shots into their training.” A scenario called “Accurate, Fast & Fun” evaluates officers on their ability to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. “Drunk Buddies” imagines a scenario in which drunk, knife-wielding men attack police while yelling “kill the cops.” …Of the 76 competitors who competed last year, more than one-third worked at agencies currently or recently under investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice for human rights violations.”

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