You Won’t Believe How Many People are Killed by the Police Every Year

Joshua Krause
Activist Post

It seems like I can’t go a single day without hearing about someone being shot and killed by a police officer. It’s become so commonplace in America, that the news rarely makes national headlines unless police abuse is suspected; and sometimes not even then. Unless you follow organizations like Copblock, you’ll only hear about a fraction of the police shootings that actually occur.

While it appears the U.S. has an incredibly violent police force, many would argue that our cops pale in comparison to police departments around the world. A Recent study from Brazil appears to confirm that belief.

SAO PAULO—A study by a public safety NGO says that Brazilian police killed more than 11,000 people between 2009 and 2013 for an average of six killings a day. The study was released Tuesday by the Sao Paulo-based Brazilian Forum on Public Safety.

It says police nationwide killed 11,197 people over the past five years, while law enforcement agents in the United States killed 11,090 people over the past 30 years.

“The empirical evidence shows that Brazilian police make abusive use of lethal force to respond to crime and violence,” the report says.

If this is true, than America’s law enforcement agencies don’t seem as bad as they’re made out to be. Police in third world nations like Brazil routinely kill more citizens than our cops do. At least, that’s what the official numbers say. While it remains to be seen how accurate this study is, one thing is for sure; our cops kill way more people every year than the official statistics show.

That’s because, as insane as it might sound, police departments aren’t required to report these statistics. As you might expect, the official numbers are pretty watered down. According to the FBI, police kill around 400 people per year, and that is only the number of “justified homicides”. If you can believe it, the government doesn’t bother to report “unjustified” homicides, and they also don’t report ‘arrest related’ deaths. As in, people killed by tasers or having a heart attack during a SWAT raid, etc.

So if we want to know how many people the police kill every year, justified or not, we’ll never get a straight answer from the government (big surprise there). There are, however, several private organizations that track this data.

Given this vacuum, attention has recently turned to some excellent nongovernmental attempts to compile this data, including the Fatal Encounters database, the recently created Gun Violence Archive and a new database created by Deadspin.

But one recent effort stood out for its apparent comprehensiveness: The Killed By Police Facebook page, which aggregates links to news articles on police-related killings and keeps a running tally on the number of victims. The creator of the page does not seek to determine whether police killings are justifiable; each post “merely documents the occurrence of a death.” He told FiveThirtyEight that he was an instructor on nonviolent physical-intervention techniques and that he prefers to remain anonymous.

Killed by Police had listed more than 1,450 deaths caused by law-enforcement officers since its launch, on May 1, 2013, through Sunday. That works out to about three per day, or 1,100 a year.

Ouch. 1,100 per year. Still, I’m sure there are some optimists out there who would point out that it’s still half as many casualties as Brazil. However, if you compare our data to the rest of the developed world, our police kill many times more than most Western countries, even if you look at it on a per-capita basis. It could be argued that these countries don’t arm their cops to the same degree, but even that doesn’t really account for our high mortality rates. As any gun enthusiast will tell you, having a gun doesn’t make you killer.

Simply put, our police have developed a ‘trigger happy’ culture. They’ve been trained to be killers, and they’ve been taught to treat all citizens with suspicion. They act like they’re a foreign army, occupying our cities and treating us like the enemy.

Our police are rapidly turning into third world thugs that will someday make the cops in Brazil blush. Until we can rein in this violent culture, our situation is only going to get worse from here.


Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.

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