Q&A – Are We Simply More Aware Of Officer Involved Shootings?

Today’s entry: Are we just more aware of officer-involved shootings than we used to be or are there more of them? For example, authorities made a point of saying they immediately released videos in the Daunte Wright shooting and the one that just happened in Columbus. 

Bottom Line: It’s a great question. For the purpose of this illustration, I’m going to focus on those shot and killed by police officers in the line of duty as those instances are at the root of the debate. These are also well documented by the Bureau of Justice Statistics

The answer to your question is the trend doesn’t fit the narrative. First, a look at the number of deaths attributed to officer-involved shootings. Between 2010 and 2019 there were 4,017 deaths. Over the prior decade, we averaged more than one death resulting from an officer-involved shooting per day in the United States. This illustrates a couple of harsh realities.

First, how many life and death situations law enforcement professionals are confronted within this country. Second, how generally responsible law enforcement professionals are when using lethal force given that every one of these incidents is investigated and well documented. Especially in the era of police car cams and police body cams. 

As I recently cited, there are 22,268 crimes committed every day. Consider how many high-stress encounters law enforcement professionals constantly encounter. Then consider how few issues we have in context. To that end, if the question is about whether we’re more aware or if there’s more activity, that context is already key. News media can find a new related story every day if they wanted to make an issue of officer-involved shootings.

Last year, there were 436 deaths from officer-involved shootings. That's right in line with the previous averages when population growth is accounted for. So no, there’s nothing that occurred last year that’s unusual about the level of deaths attributed to officer-involved shootings. There are 90 deaths attributed to officer-involved shootings thus far in 2021. That projects to fewer than 270 for the year if the current trend holds. In other words, deaths via officer-involved shootings are 35% lower than usual so far this year. 

These are the facts. The bottom line is that the narrative regarding policing doesn’t fit the facts. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 


Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio 

Photo By: Getty Images

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