4 Unfashionable Truths about Police Shootings

Lately we hear from many within the media and the Democratic Party that the United States is an endemically and systemically racist country, and that law enforcement is among the greatest threats to black lives. This narrative has been carefully promulgated over the past several years, beginning in earnest with the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. It was in the aftermath of that killing that many institutions, including the Washington Post, began compiling data on police shootings.

These data, of course, give the lie to the prevailing narrative.

1. White Suspects Are Shot By Police At Far Higher Rates Than Black Suspects. According to the Washington Post database, in 2015, 49 percent of suspects shot and killed by police were white. By comparison, 26 percent were black. Of course, the Post’s get-out-of-jail-free card here is that “blacks have been shot and killed at rates significantly higher than their percentage of the overall U.S. population.” This is true. It’s also true that black Americans disproportionately live in high-crime inner cities made that way largely by the weak law enforcement policies of local politicians. Because blacks tend to be majorities in these localities – and commit a disproportionate share of the crime and are disproportionately exposed to criminal activity – they’re also disproportionately exposed to confrontations with police. In order to reduce potentially-deadly police encounters across the board, we should recognize that people have agency over their lives and encourage one another to make personal decisions that don’t lead to precarious situations.

2. The Use of Deadly Force By Police Is Justified In the Vast Majority of Cases. Per data from the Post, the police have fatally shot about 3,300 suspects since 2015. Of those killed, only 7 percent were unarmed at the time. Notably, in 40 percent of these cases the police were reported to be under physical assault; in 31 percent of cases, the suspect was making provocative movements. In the remaining 29 percent of cases, suspects were reported to be attempting escape or were shot under disputed circumstances or unintentionally. Make no mistake, it is a tragedy when suspects are shot and killed by law enforcement. But the data hardly suggest that police are hunting down suspects and slaughtering them for sport. That’s more like the high-crime, gang-infested inner cities run by soft-on-crime leftists who remove police for the purpose of virtue-signaling.

3. Fatal Shootings By Police Are In Decline, and Exceptionally Rare As It Is. Ninety-four unarmed suspects were shot by police in 2015. That number decreased to 51 the following year and then increased slightly to 68 in 2017. Notably, last year, police shot and killed nine unarmed black suspects out of a total of 375 million contacts. According to the Post, “Fatal shootings of unarmed black men — such as the high-profile case in March of Stephon Clark in Sacramento — are among the kinds of killings that have fallen. Criminologists said the downturn in the number of cases and their analysis of the data indicate that evidence of racial bias by police who shoot and kill unarmed blacks has also declined but not disappeared.” By and large, law enforcement officers are a competent bunch. And, furthermore, they are not shooting people because of the color of their skin.

4. No Police, No Peace. With police on the chopping block in major cities nationwide, violent crime has surged across the country. According to the Wall Street Journal, shootings in Minneapolis tripled in the month of June to 75 from 24 the previous year. Since Mayor Bill de Blasio began cracking down on police activity in New York City, crime has skyrocketed to the point that black community leaders have petitioned the city to reinstate its recently-disbanded plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit. According to data collected by the Atlanta Police Department, 106 people were shot in the city between June 13 and July 11, an increase from 40 people during that same span of time last year. In Chicago, shootings and murders were up 75 percent and 78 percent, respectively, this June from last. Portland, Oregon has endured nightly riots for the past two months during which police officers have been shot at, assaulted with bottles and rocks, and permanently blinded with lasers. As it turns out, law enforcement is a necessary condition for peaceful communities. Inhibit it and chaos ensues.

Perhaps the most unfashionable truth of all is that police save black lives. And by removing police, we permit violent criminals to lay waste to black populations left to fend for themselves in American cities. But such an admission is verboten. Look for the sacrifice of black communities to continue apace as police are increasingly treated worse than the people from whom they’re trying to protect us.

(Photo: Flickr/Elvert Barnes/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Heroes Media Group

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