Everyone from the Hollywood elite to NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem… from the mainstream media to teachers at schools across the country… seem to want to declare that police are racists.
They’ll tell you there’s a disproportionate number of “unarmed black men” being killed by the cops.
That police brutality is out of control.
Except… the numbers once again absolutely destroy that argument.
- According to 2019 data, there are 328, 240, 469 people here in the United States.
- According to stats from com, there are 670,279 full time police officers here in the United States out of a total of 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers (data from National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund).
- There are approximately 2.1 police officers per thousand people.
- Police officers are less than .21 % of population.
- Officers come into contact with 17% of the population annually.
That means 55,800,880 contacts
- Which, at the time of the last report, led to 26,000 excessive force complaints against officers.
- That’s 0.047% of contacts.
- Only 8% of those complaints were sustained.
- That’s 2,080 out of 53,380,000 contacts, or .0039%
A good friend of mine who is a Chief of Police put that into perspective:
- You are seven times more likely to be murdered …
- 15 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident …
- 42 times more likely to be raped …
… than to have a police officer use excessive force on you.
But we’re just warming up. Let’s look at 2018 police shootings.
Of the 998 total Police Deadly Use of Force, here is the breakdown by Race & Age:
- White –456 (45.69%)
- Black –229 (22.95%)
- Hispanic –165 (16.5%)
- Other –41 (4.1%)
- Unknown –107 (10.72%)
- Under 18 – 15
- 18 to 29 – 286
- 30 to 44 – 379
- Over 45 – 253
- Unknown – 65
According to 2016 FBI data, black men commit murder 572.8% more than white men. Rapes are committed at a level of 146.1% greater, robbery at 617.9% greater, aggravated assault at 203.3% greater and violent crime in total at 263.6% greater.
Now let’s look at 2018 Police Deadly Use of Force data.
In 2018 there were a total of 998 Police Deadly Use of Force incidents. Of these incidents, 95.3% of suspects were armed:
- Gun – 555
- Knife – 185
- Replica weapon – 33
- Vehicle – 38
- Other – 105
- Unknown – 35
- Unarmed – 47
Of the 47 (4.7%) that were “unarmed”:
- White – 23
- Black – 18
- Hispanic – 6
Note: In almost half of the cases (22) where the suspect was unarmed, non-lethal force was attempted & failed prior to the use of deadly Force.
Listen. I’m not suggesting racism doesn’t exist in law enforcement. It exists everywhere – that’s the sad truth of it.
And yes, black people in the United States are more likely to be victims of violent confrontations with police officers (per capita) than their white counterparts. But let’s dive deeper into why this is.
Statistically, minorities come to police attention far more than their population would suggest.
- Black Americans make up about 13% of the population.
- But according to the FBI, they account for about 50% of murders, and about 38% of all violent crime overall.
Chicago gives us some great examples. And let’s not forget the insanely strict gun laws there, by the way. For example, during the first eight months of 2016 (the most recent period for which the numbers are available), 2,818 people were shot — only 12 by police. (That’s one-half of 1 percent).
In cities with large black populations, homicide rates have skyrocketed during that same period:
- In Washington D.C., homicides are up 54%. In Cleveland, up 90%. Overall, homicide is up 17%.
- The U.S. Department of Justice says that Black people make up 15% of the population in the 75 largest counties in the United States, yet account for 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders, 45% of all assaults.
So what’s going on here? Are we confusing the color of one’s skin with poverty or inequality? It’s a fair argument. Black people tend to be greater offenders, statistically speaking, because they tend to be more disadvantaged, living in poorer urban areas with less access to public services.
Then of course there’s the argument about the “violent subculture theory.” This is the idea that some black communities have developed cultural values that are more tolerant of crime and violence.
I want to leave you with a few recent studies.
First, a 2016 study by Roland G. Fryer Jr., who is an economics professor at Harvard. He found that no racial bias could be detected in police shootings, in either the raw data or when accounting for controls. He also found racial bias was detected in lesser use of police force, but not deadly encounters. His recommendation?
“Black Lives Matter should seek solutions within their own communities rather than changing the behaviors of police and other external forces.”
Second, there were 6,095 black homicide deaths in 2014 according to FBI Data — the most recent year for which such data are available — compared with 5,397 homicide deaths for whites and Hispanics combined. Almost all of those black homicide victims had black killers.
Finally, police officers — of all races — are also disproportionately endangered by black assailants. Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police.
Seems to me like the real problem here is socioeconomic disparities along with a public perception issue thanks to biased reporting. And let’s not forget the huge role that social media plays in disseminating false narratives and creating emotional, knee-jerk reactions.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with some stats from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.
- There are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States, which is the highest figure ever. About 12 percent of those are female.
- According to the preliminary FBI’s Uniform Crime Reportfrom January to June 2016-2017, an estimated 442,824 Violent Crimes occurred nationwide, a decrease of 8%.
- Crime fighting has taken its toll. Since the first recorded police death in 1791, there have been over 21,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Currently, there are 21,541 names engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
- A total of 1,511 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years, an average of one death every 58 hours or 151 per year. There were 129 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2017.
- There have been 58,627 assaults against law enforcement officers in 2016, resulting in 16,677
- The 1920s were the deadliest decade in law enforcement history, when a total of 2,480 officers died, or an average of almost 248 each year. The deadliest year in law enforcement history was 1930, when 310 officers were killed. That figure dropped dramatically in the 1990s, to an average of 162 per year.
- The deadliest day in law enforcement history was September 11, 2001, when 72officers were killed while responding to the terrorist attacks on America.
- New York City has lost more officers in the line of duty than any other department, with 833 Texas has lost 1,731officers, more than any other state. The state with the fewest deaths is Vermont, with 23.
- There are 1,135 federal officers listed on the Memorial, as well as 707 correctional officers and 41 military law enforcement officers.
- There are 328 female officers listed on the Memorial; nine female officers were killed in 2017.
- During the past ten years, more incidents that resulted in felonious fatalities occurred on Friday than any other day of the week. The fewest number of felonious incidents occurred on Tuesday.
It’s important to have very real conversations about racism in America and accountability among those who hold the thin blue line. Let’s just make sure we’re basing those conversations on facts and not feelings.