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Norway’s Police Haven’t Killed Anyone in Almost a Decade

Norway’s Police Haven’t Killed Anyone in Almost a Decade: Source: Johan Spanner for The New York Times

Source: Johan Spanner for The New York Times

Even with its viking history, Norway seems like a peaceful place. But it turns out the Scandinavian country is reeeeally peaceful. In fact, its law enforcement hasn’t killed anyone since 2006.

Detailed in a new report, the Norwegian government notes that, in 2014, its nation’s officers drew their guns a total of 42 times and only fired two on-duty shots. Compare that to U.S. officers having already killed 547 individuals in just the first six months of this year alone.

Here’s the breakdown of shots fired (including warning shots) by police in Norway:

Shots1

And here’s the breakdown of people injured in that timeframe:

Shots2

While these figures can invite a discussion about the role of population (take Norway’s tidier 5.1 million to the United States’ bulging 319 million), it’s more a matter of protocol. Much like Britain, Ireland and Iceland, most of Norway’s police force are typically unarmed and only carry guns under special circumstances. Officers were even able to bring Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik into custody, following his massive, horrifying attack in 2011, without killing him.

But maybe population influences what’s able to be structurally done. Many believe it’s a matter of being able to standardize procedure at the federal level, something the United States would have trouble doing with such a sprawling country.

“When policing is centralized, says Rutgers University sociologist Paul Hirschfield, "it is possible to institute and enforce provincial or national use of force rules.”

Combine that with citizens who are more readily able to trust police, which Northern Michigan University sociologist Guðmundur Oddsson notes is easier to do in a homogenous country like Norway.

Regardless, it’s wonderful to know that it’s possible, somewhere, even if it would take an enormous amount of change to see headlines like this about the United States.

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