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POLICE USE OF FORCE

In 2001, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) issued a major report examining the use of deadly force by police officers in the line of duty, covering the period 1976-1998. Below are some of the report's key findings. It should be noted that the study did not distinguish between whites and Hispanics, but instead categorized all members of those two demographics as “White.” Thus, in the synopsis below, the study's "White" category will instead be called “W&H” (Whites & Hispanics).

* Of the 8,578 civilians killed by police during those years, 98% were males. Some 55% of those males were W&H, and 41% were black.

* The average age of those who were killed by police from 1976-98 was 31. In most years, more justifiable police homicides occurred against felons in their twenties than against those in any other age group.

* From 1976-98, police officers killed an average of 373 civilians per year.

* During the entire 1976-98 period, 56% of all suspects killed by police were W&H, and 42% were black.

* In 1978, 50% of the civilians killed by police were W&H, and 49% were black. In 1988, 59% of the civilians killed by police were W&H, and 39% were black. In 1998, 62% of the civilians killed by police were W&H, and 35% were black. For year-by-year racial breakdown of these killings, click here and go to page 7, table 4.

* From 1976-98, 84% of police officers who killed criminal suspects were W&H, and 15% were black. In most years, officers aged 25 to 29 accounted for more justifiable homicides of felons, than officers in any other age group.

* Fully 98% of those police officers who killed a suspect in the line of duty between 1976-98 were males. Approximately 96% of the time, the suspect was also a male.

* In about 65% of all justifiable homicides by police during 1976-98, the officer's race and the suspect's race were the same. When a W&H officer killed a suspect, that suspect was usually a W&H (63%); and when a black officer killed a suspect, that suspect was usually a black (81%).

* In 1998, the "black officer kills black felon" rate was 32 per 100,000 black officers, considerably higher than the "W&H officer kills black felon" rate of 14 per 100,000 W&H officers. That same year, the "W&H officer kills W&H felons" rate was 28 per 100,000 W&H officers, which was higher than the "black officer kills W&H felon" rate of 11 per 100,000 black officers.

With regard to other types of police use of force (i.e., besides homicide), another BJS report states that in their face-to-face contacts with civilians, police either use, or threaten to use, force about 1% of the time; police use of force typically occurs at the lower end of the force spectrum, involving grabbing, pushing, or shoving; and approximately 80% of those arrests in which police use force involve weaponless tactics. Chemical agents, such as pepper spray, were the weapons most frequently used (in 1.2% of all arrests), and firearms were used least often (0.2%).

When injuries occur as a result of police use of force, they are usually minor. In one study, researchers found that the most common injury to a suspect was a bruise or abrasion (48%). Use of force typically occurs when police are trying to make an arrest and the suspect is resisting.

Criminologists Geoffrey Alpert and Roger Dunham report that officers are more likely to use force against suspects of their own racial group.

 

RESOURCES

Academic Research on Police Shootings and Race
By Heather MacDonald
July 19, 2016

990 People Shot Dead by Police in 2015
By The Washington Post

A Year of Reckoning: Police Fatally Shoot Nearly 1,000
By The Washington Post
December 26, 2015

Black and Unarmed: Behind the Numbers
By Heather Mac Donald
February 8, 2016

CNN Fans More Hatred of Cops, in Touting Flawed Study
By Heather Mac Donald
December 21, 2016

The Numbers Are in: Black Lives Matter Is Wrong about Police
By David French
December 29, 2015

Violent Criminals, Not the Police, Pose the Real Threat to African-Americans
By Heather Mac Donald
January 2016

The Danger of the “Black Lives Matter” Movement
By Heather Mac Donald
April 2016

Think Tank: Data Show Black Lives Most Threatened by Violent Criminals, Not the Police
By Jose R. Gonzalez
January 26, 2016

Policing and Homicide, 1976-98: Justifiable Homicide by Police, Police Officers Murdered by Felons
By The Bureau of Justice Statistics
March 2001

What the Numbers Say on Police Use of Force
By Steven Malanga
December 4, 2014

The Myths of Black Lives Matter
By Heather Mac Donald
February 11, 2016

Examining the Prevalence of Deaths from Police Use of Force
By Richard Johnson, Ph.D.
2014

Arrest-Related Deaths, 2003-2009
By The Bureau Of Justice Statistics
November 2011

How the Number of Justifiable Police Homicides Has Changed Since the 1990s
By Philip Bump
August 15, 2014

The Police Brutality ‘Epidemic’ Lie
By Jack Kerwick
December 31, 2014

Statistical Evidence Not Required
By Heather Mac Donald
January 16, 2017

Black Lives Matter: A Movement Built on Lies
By John Perazzo
July 12, 2016

The Numbers Add up to One Fact: Cops Are a Blessing to NYC
By John Podhoretz
December 31, 2014

"Ferguson Effect Is Real," Police Survey Finds
By Bob Price
January 17, 2017

Use of Force by Police: Overview of National and Local Data
By The Bureau Of Justice Statistics
October 1999

Police Use of Force: Collection of National Data
By The Bureau Of Justice Statistics
January 6, 1998

National Data Collection on Police Use of Force
By The Bureau Of Justice Statistics
April 1996

Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008
By Alexia Cooper and Erica L. Smith
November 2011

Understanding the Use of Force By and Against the Police in Six Jurisdictions
By Joel Garner and Christopher Maxwell
October 3, 2002

Analysis of Police Use-of-Force Data
By Geoffrey Alpert and Roger Dunham
July 25, 2000

Factors That Influence Public Opinion of the Police
By The U.S. Justice Department
June 2003

The Lie Behind the Lynch Mob: Remarkable Statistics on Killings by Police
By John Perazzo
August 26, 2014

Black Lives Matter Puts Feelings First, Evidence Last
By Ben Shapiro
July 13, 2016


VIDEO

Are the Police Racist?
By Heather Mac Donald
August 22, 2016


BOOKS

Are Cops Racist?
By Heather Mac Donald
2010

The War on Cops
By Heather Mac Donald
2016

 

 

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