It has been reported today by the Associated Press that U.S. Police Fatalities Have Risen 13%
Across the nation, 173 officers died in the line of duty, up 13 percent from 153 the year before, according to numbers as of Wednesday compiled by
the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
This is, of course, disturbing news, but what is not news and even more disturbing is that no one even seems interested in keeping track of how many
unarmed people were killed by police officers in the same year.
Aware of this problem, and having attempted in the past to find something on the internet that might serve as even close to accurate information as to
how many unarmed people have been shot and killed by police, and failed, after reading this article I tried again to find any reliable source that
might give a number as to how many unarmed people were killed by police.
I first Googled this question: How many unarmed suspects were killed by U.S. police officers in 2011. The first article on that page was a Wikipedia
article Death of Jean Charles Menezes
which is about London police officers
misidentifying someone and shooting him in the head. If this is foreshadowing for all to come it is disturbing foreshadowing to be sure. Why would
an article about London police killing an unarmed and innocent be the first article to come up on a question of U.S. police killing people?
The second article on that same page was yet another Wikipedia article, and astoundingly, another article about
police use of firearms in the United Kingdom
. The third article
on that Google page is a tad better, which is an article which is a pro gun website listing the unarmed people killed by Las Vegas officers with
AR15's. This is that
. The next
is an article about the
second unarmed person being killed by Downey police officers in the same month (October 2011), the fifth
is a Huffington Post article about Downey
(again) police killing yet another unarmed man this December, the fifth
from the Downey Patriot,
(again with Downey) is a fairly non-specific article about another unarmed man shot and killed by Downey police, the sixth
is a New York Times article about Sean Bell, who was
an unarmed victim of New York police and their guns, but this happened in 2007.
The final three links of that Google page are
(another Las Vegas incident)
, which claims that 1 in 3 people killed by
Huston police officers were unarmed, and finally this link
is an article about yet another unarmed man killed by Las Vegas police.
Relatively certain that this Google search would be like searching for a needle in a haystack, I tried again, this time asking this question: "who
tracks the number of people killed by u.s. police officers"? The first link, and astoundingly so, is the lyrics to Arlo Guthrie's song
. The second
, a CNBC article is not much more help in the search for a
reliable number of unarmed people killed by police, and is instead titled: "America's Most Destructive Riots of all Time. The third
appears to be a personal blog (dated 1992) of one mans effort to categorize unarmed people
being killed by police through collected news clippings. It gets closer to what the search was looking for, but is not a comprehensive study
attempting to get at the actual numbers of unarmed people shot and killed by police. The fourth
is about the Mexican Drug war and I am not clear
why it is even on this Google page, but it is. The fifth article is a web site called
The Police Policy Studies Council
and is actually the type
of reliable study I was hoping to find, only this one is specific to Portland Oregon only.
The sixth link
of this Google search, however, veers off into some rant written by a police
officer lamenting Body Counts now infamous "Cop Killer" song. However, the next link helps to put all this in perspective:
When the Police Shoot, Who's Counting?
WE like to think we live in the information age, when daily or even second-by-second statistics on such fare as stock prices and the annual number
of homicides are at our fingertips. For all the careful accounting, however, there are two figures Americans don't have: the precise number of people
killed by the police, and the number of times police use excessive force.
Despite widespread public interest and a provision in the 1994 Crime Control Act requiring the Attorney General to collect the data and publish an
annual report on them, statistics on police shootings and use of nondeadly force continue to be piecemeal products of spotty collection, and are
dependent on the cooperation of local police departments. No comprehensive accounting for all of the nation's 17,000 police department exists.
Later in that article it is pointed out that:
The International Chiefs of Police, a police organization, tried in the 1980's to collect such information, but "the figures were very
embarrassing to a lot of police departments," said James Fyfe, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University who is a former New York City
police lieutenant. The results, he said, varied wildly. New Orleans had 10 times as many shootings per 100 officers as Newark. Long Beach had twice as
many as neighboring Los Angeles, which in turn had three times more than New York.
Some cities did not provide data at all, Professor Fyfe said, but the results, such as they were, showed that "the rates of deadly force are all over
the lot," meaning that some cities appear to be much better and some much worse at managing their police forces.
Who's watching the watchmen?
edit on 28-12-2011 by Jean Paul Zodeaux because: Attempting to fix the mess I made with a link