Since 1976, the FBI has never recorded more than 460 fatal police shootings in a single year. With over three months left in 2015, The Washington Post has already recorded over 700.
Most likely, this drastic increase is not the result of a spike in police officers using deadly force, but rather a history of consistently under-reported numbers on the part of police departments and the federal government.
(Click here to read There Is No Evidence of a ‘Ferguson Effect’)
According to Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post, federal data for police-related shootings is “notoriously inaccurate” due to the fact that police department participation in the tracking process is completely voluntary and largely ignored.
Of the 703 people killed by police this year, 68 were unarmed. And among those who were unarmed, 26 were black. But an overwhelming number of those killed by police were allegedly armed with a deadly weapon. And in a country with nearly 320,000,000 people, 700 might not sound like a lot, relatively speaking.
But considering Canada averages about 25 fatal police shootings a year, and there have only been 55 police killings in England and Wales over the past 24 years, clearly there’s a problem, even if you adjust for the differences in population.
Of course police in the United States are dealing with a whole host of problems that are not factors in other Western nations, a heavily armed populace being the most obvious. But thanks to inaccurate and under-reported numbers, we’ve had no way to gauge whether or not things are getting better or worse. But thanks to the Washington Post’s research, at least we have a place to start.
(Source: The Washington Post)