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How many police shootings a year? No one knows.

Posted by on Oct. 15, 2014 at 10:21 PM
  • 22 Replies

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/09/08/how-many-police-shootings-a-year-no-one-knows/

I decided to find out how many cops have shot more than one person and came upon this article.  I'm only posting the lowlights; you can read the whole article at the link above this paragraph.  The answer to how many cops have shot more than one person is:  It seems no one is keeping track.  

A summer of high-profile police shootings, most notably the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has rekindled a decades-long debate over law enforcement’s use of lethal force.

Police unions and some law-and-order conservatives insist that shootings by officers are rare and even more rarely unjustified. Civil rights groups and some on the left have just as quickly prescribed racial motives to the shootings, declaring that black and brown men are being “executed” by officers.

And, like all previous incarnations of the clash over police force, the debate remains absent access to a crucial, fundamental fact.

Criminal justice experts note that, while the federal government and national research groups keep scads of data and statistics— on topics ranging from how many people were victims of unprovoked shark attacks (53 in 2013) to the number of hogs and pigs living on farms in the U.S. (upwards of 64,000,000 according to 2010 numbers) — there is no reliable national data on how many people are shot by police officers each year.

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The government does, however, keep a database of how many officers are killed in the line of duty. In 2012, the most recent year for which FBI data is available, it was 48 – 44 of them killed with firearms.

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Officials with the Justice Department keep no comprehensive database or record of police shootings, instead allowing the nation’s more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies to self-report officer-involved shootings as part of the FBI’s annual data on “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement.

That number – which only includes self-reported information from about 750 law enforcement agencies – hovers around 400 “justifiable homicides” by police officers each year. The DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics also tracks “arrest-related deaths.” But the department stopped releasing those numbers after 2009, because, like the FBI data, they were widely regarded as unreliable.

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Several independent trackers, primarily journalists and academics who study criminal justice, insist the accurate number of people shot and killed by police officers each year is consistently upwards of 1,000 each year.

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In fact, prior to the Brown’s shooting, the only person attempting to keep track of the number of police shootings was D. Brian Burghart, the editor and publisher of the 29,000-circulation Reno News & Review, who launched his “Fatal Encounters” project in 2012.

“Don’t you find it spookey? This is information, this is the government’s job,” Burghart said. “One of the government’s major jobs is to protect us. How can it protect us if it doesn’t know what the best practices are? If it doesn’t know if one local department is killing people at a higher rate than others? When it can’t make decisions based on real numbers to come up with best practices? That to me is an abdication of responsibilities.”

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As of September 1, according to Burghart’s estimates, 83 other people had been killed by police officers in the United States since Michael Brown’s death.

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The most detailed analysis of police shootings to date was conducted by Jim Fisher, a former FBI agent and criminal justice professor who now authors true crime books.

“I was rather surprised to find there are no statistics,” Fisher said. “The answer to me is pretty obvious: the government just doesn’t want us to know how many people are shot by the police every year.”

In 2011, he scoured the Internet several times a day every day, compiling a database of every officer-involved shooting he could find. Ultimately, he tracked 1,146 shootings by police officers, 607 of them fatal shootings.

“I was surprised at how many shootings, a reasonable person would conclude, were unnecessary,” Fisher said.



by on Oct. 15, 2014 at 10:21 PM
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Replies (1-10):
muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Oct. 15, 2014 at 11:20 PM

Why would they keep track of that? There has to be some sort of watch group out there who is keeping track of this, though. Right? I would hope so.

JonJon
by Ruby Member on Oct. 16, 2014 at 12:02 AM
1 mom liked this

There is a move to have Congress create a law to make it mandatory for all cop shootings to be reported to the FBI so they can keep track.

There are citizens trying to keep track but all shootings are not reported, especially the ones where the shot people survive.  The cops don't want them talking about what really happened and learning from others they should sue.

DisabledVet
by Silver Member on Oct. 16, 2014 at 3:15 AM

The FBI collects such statistics. I don't know if they release them to the public. But when I was taking criminal justice in college we were told the FBI does keep these stats.

Every time an officer discharges his/her weapon their is an investigation. I don't know how he can decide the shooting weren't necessary.

Carpy
by Emerald Member on Oct. 16, 2014 at 7:14 AM

True.

Quoting DisabledVet:

The FBI collects such statistics. I don't know if they release them to the public. But when I was taking criminal justice in college we were told the FBI does keep these stats.

Every time an officer discharges his/her weapon their is an investigation. I don't know how he can decide the shooting weren't necessary.



JonJon
by Ruby Member on Oct. 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM

You didn't read the article.

Some police departments voluntarily submit shooting reports.  The overwhelming majority don't.  There's no law mandating police to report to any federal agency so stats can be accurately tabulated.  It's like rape; police shootings are underreported which means there are far more shootings than the FBI knows.

And nope, all shootings are not investigated.  The cops were ready to let George Zimmerman walk without an investigation, deciding for themselves he was justified murdering Trayvon Martin.  If they were going to do that for a wannabe-cop what do you suppose that one PD does when their own kill people?  That one PD is indicative of pretty much all PDs.  The PDs who bother reporting probably only report a fraction of the actual times their police shoot at and/or actually wound and kill people.

There ought to be a law.

Quoting DisabledVet:

The FBI collects such statistics. I don't know if they release them to the public. But when I was taking criminal justice in college we were told the FBI does keep these stats.

Every time an officer discharges his/her weapon their is an investigation. I don't know how he can decide the shooting weren't necessary.


Woodbabe
by Woodie on Oct. 16, 2014 at 12:37 PM

I'm sure if they counted every time a cop was shot AT, they'd get a decent idea of how many times they've returned fire...that could be a good starting point, anyway.

JonJon
by Ruby Member on Oct. 16, 2014 at 12:54 PM

No one's following the link to the article.

The cops provide those numbers and the number of times they've actually been shot.  It averages something like 53 times a year.  Those events make them brave heroes. 

I believe it's the cops who usually shoot first because they arrive to locations called in to 911 ready to shoot anything and anyone that's moving..

Meanwhile, over a thousand citzens, most of them unarmed and innocent of any crimes, are killed each year from estimates of people trying to track the numbers.

Quoting Woodbabe:

I'm sure if they counted every time a cop was shot AT, they'd get a decent idea of how many times they've returned fire...that could be a good starting point, anyway.


pvtjokerus
by Ruby Member on Oct. 16, 2014 at 9:58 PM

Hmmm....maybe you should look into the increase shootings against cops this year while you are in the researching mode.

2007mommy2be
by Gold Member on Oct. 16, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Mobile Photo

I saw this on Facebook.
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Oct. 16, 2014 at 10:22 PM


Quoting DisabledVet:

The FBI collects such statistics. I don't know if they release them to the public. But when I was taking criminal justice in college we were told the FBI does keep these stats.

Every time an officer discharges his/her weapon their is an investigation. I don't know how he can decide the shooting weren't necessary.

This.

There are records, there is data.

Not all things, for whatever reason, are available to the public, whether the general public, reporters, etc.

How consistent or complete or even accurate the reports are is another matter, I'm sure.

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