quote:Police killings in America have been undercounted by more than half over the past four decades, according to a new study that raises pointed questions about racial bias among medical examiners and highlights the lack of reliable national record keeping on what has become a major public health and civil rights issue. ... Researchers compared information from a federal database known as the National Vital Statistics System, which collects death certificates, with recent data from three organizations that track police killings through news reports and public records requests. When extrapolating and modeling that data back decades, they identified a startling discrepancy: About 55 percent of fatal encounters with the police between 1980 and 2018 were listed as another cause of death.
However outraged you've been at the number of blacks killed by police, double it.
I'm not wanting to downplay the tragic police failures such as George Floyd and many others, but...
The police, especially in troubled areas of big cities, have a very difficult job. I think that one might need to be crazy to want to step into doing such a job, and/or the job might induce craziness. Not unlike being "the boots on the ground" in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and (?).
Professor, geology, Whatsamatta U Evolution - Changes in the environment, caused by the interactions of the components of the environment.
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The police, especially in troubled areas of big cities, have a very difficult job.
Yes, their job is difficult, but they're taking the difficulties of that job out on the public they're sworn to protect because of a problematic culture underpinned by and likely caused by qualified immunity. It's the age old "power corrupts" story, with the result that in too many jurisdictions police get away with all kinds of malfeasance and misbehavior including, sometimes, murder.
Arguably the job of police might be easier without qualified immunity. Without a feeling of impunity they might be less likely to walk into dangerous situations or escalate them in ways that make the chances they'll need their firearms more likely.
The cases where police have been successfully prosecuted are ludicrously extreme. Walking into a man's apartment and murdering him. Choking a suspect for seven minutes. Tossing a handcuffed man into the back of a police van without securing him with seat belts and then taking a series of violent turns that slam him into the van's sides.
The cases where police were not charged are also informative. Deaf Magdiel Sanchez murdered when he failed to follow police instructions yelled from behind him. 12-year-old Tamir rice murdered while playing with a toy gun in a park. Breonna Taylor shot to death in her own home during a no-knock raid based on an errant informant. Qualified immunity is very powerful.
I don't know what percentage of police discharge of weapons results in death, but I've always suspected it was pretty high. This might lead one to believe that police are crack shots who aim for the heart and hit it every time. The reality is that a cop discharging his weapon is usually in a panicked and highly volatile frame of mind that often causes them to completely discharge their weapons at the supposed suspect.
For years I've asked why cops can't shoot to wound and the answer is always the same: the chest is the biggest target, and since a cop would only be using lethal force when lethally threatened he must aim for the area that has the best chance of neutralizing the threat.
That's a good story, but it's a lie. The big problem isn't cops constantly being lethally threatened by citizens (which of course happens, but that's not the *big* problem) but cops being spooked into thinking there might possibly be a scintilla of a chance of the potential for being lethally threatened. Kid holding a (toy) gun? Shoot him. (Deaf) man with his back to you refusing to follow orders? Shoot him. With qualified immunity to remove almost all possibility of accountability there's rarely any downside to putting their own safety above the safety of the public they're pledged to serve and protect. And so we have the current situation of a citizenry preyed upon by cops who shoot first and are later almost invariably exonerated by their department.
The war-zone style training made available to contributes to the problem, turning good cops into paranoid zombies who see citizens as potential threats instead of as the people they serve.
So three cheers for this small step forward that, if adopted nationwide, would greatly reduce the number of unnecessary police homicides. Of course the ultimate goal is to get rid of the guns. Put all the guns in an armory and break them out only when needed.