Statistics on police brutality are often debated and controversial, but this new study may have put doubters that we have a policing problem to rest.
The research was provided by the British Medical Journal. They analyzed more about 12 million police interventions from the year 2012, finding a total of 55,300 cases in which people were injured or killed during the process.
Out of that number, 1,000 were killed, and another 54,300 were hospitalized. Most had serious injuries, often from being struck with a blunt object.
Obviously, a number of these cases were justified due to the officers needing to protect themselves or others. But the researchers and authors of the study themselves say in the conclusion of the study that these numbers suggest an “excessive exposure” of citizens to police violence.
One of the most shocking facts that came out of the study was that almost 10% of firearms-related homicides in the U.S. are committed by cops:
“In one in 11 cases where someone died because someone else intentionally shot them, a police officer pulled the trigger.”
Much of the criticism of policing in America is rooted in the fact that systematic racism is deeply embedded into the system. This study confirmed that fact once again.
Which the likelihood of being injured or killed during any particular stop is about equal for all groups, minorities are much more likely to be stopped in the first place:
“Blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to be arrested when the police stop them than Whites or Asians. This differential may well result from racism. But once you are stopped or arrested, the likelihood that you will be killed or seriously injured during that police interaction does not depend on your race.”
Ultimately, the study found that blacks are four times more likely than whites to be stopped by police.
This study sends a clear message to the US citizenry: a simple traffic stop can be a disaster. About 1 in 291 stops lead to serious injury or death.
One of the criticisms of the protests against police violence is that they are leading to more violence against police. It is statistically true that killings of police officer has shot up to similar levels to the 1970s in the last couple of years.
We need major reform to the criminal justice system if we hope to have peace. These shocking numbers give us yet more evidence of the obvious: we need a major overhaul of our criminal justice system.
This needs to start with a new program of training that focuses on community policing. Police do not need to harass people for petty crime and for suspicion of drugs. Their job is to protect people and go after those causing harm to others.