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How Many Police Interactions Per Year

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The Most Dangerous Thing

Maurice Gordons interactions with N.J. State Police before being fatally shot on the G.S. Parkway

Three sheriffs deputies surrounded a beat-up Mercedes with a broken taillight in Clark County, Wash., in February. The tools strewn across the passenger seat worried them immediately, they later told investigators.

That right there can hurt someone, said Deputy Holly Troupe.

The drivers retorts set off more alarms. You need to chill out! she recalled him parroting back to her.

To help force him out of the car, Deputy Sean Boyle punched the driver in the nose. Deputy Troupe grabbed him below the jaw in what she called pain compliance. But the driver, Jenoah Donald, a 30-year-old mechanic who had autism and struggled with drug addiction, started the car with one hand and clutched Deputy Boyles ballistic vest with the other, the officer later said.

Deputy Boyle, though he had 70 pounds on the driver, told investigators he had feared he might be stuck half-inside a moving car: I was convinced, This is how you are going to die, he later told investigators. So he shot Mr. Donald in the head.

Prosecutors questioned whether the stop would have ended differently if the officers had explained to the driver why they were ordering him to leave the car. But Deputy Boyle, with two decades on the job, had fired in good faith, the prosecutors concluded.

Some officers involved in fatalities at vehicle stops cite their training, which for decades has stressed the perils of those interactions.

Crime Reported By Race

Victimization reporting rates by race and ethnicity are remarkably similar for both violent and property crimes. However, Black people are slightly more likely to report experiencing a crime than members of other racial groups, particularly with regard to violent offenses. From 1995 to 2019, 51% of victims who were Black reported their violent person crimes to the police compared to 44% of White victims and 47% of Hispanic victims.

Victimizations Reported to the Police by Race

Gunshot Injuries Resulting From Police Encounters Are Similar Across The Use Of Force And Hospital Discharge Data

California DOJ Use of Force data OSHPD hospital discharge data.

NOTES: Use of Force data only include gunshot wounds where the person injured was recorded as receiving medical aid at a hospital or medical facility. Gunshot injuries in hospital discharge data are based on external cause of injury codes indicating the injury resulted from a firearm encounter with law enforcement and excludes those that were not identified as serious based on the primary diagnosis. For more information, refer to Technical Appendix A.

The Use of Force data and hospital data also include other serious injuries resulting from police use-of-force incidents. According to the Use of Force data, there were about 365 additional serious injuries sustained during police encounters each year. Some of these injuries include lacerations, bone fractures, and head wounds. The hospital discharge data contain many more reports of serious injuries from police interactionsover 3,000 annually. They also include many more instances of lacerations, broken bones, and head wounds than are reported in the Use of Force data however, it is not possible to determine how severe these injuries were based on the hospital records alone. The Use of Force data should include all injuries that result in serious bodily injury, making it difficult to compare directly with the hospital discharge records. Technical Appendix A provides more details on how we identify serious injuries in the hospital discharge data.

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Police Misconduct In California

In this section, we review the available information on police misconduct in California. As discussed above, most use-of-force incidents are not considered misconduct. Moreover, misconduct may not involve the use of force at all. Misconduct includes any incidents deemed outside of the officer code of conductwhether the officer is on duty or off dutyincluding obstructing justice, driving under the influence, or engaging in other illegal acts. Here we consider all types of misconduct, including those not related to use of force, because these can also damage the publics trust in law enforcement.

Though officers are legally able to use force to enforce the law, use of force can be deemed excessive and/or unreasonable depending on the circumstances of the interaction. While use of force and misconduct are not the same thing, the potential overlap between the two provided the impetus for recently enacted state legislation and proposed federal legislation , both of which called for increased data availability and transparency for use-of-force incidents and cases of misconduct. In addition, other legislation in California aims to increase transparency and heighten accountability for police misconduct. For example, the recently introduced Assembly Bill 718 and the recently signed Senate Bill 2 would work to stymie the wandering officer phenomenon, when officers who commit misconduct move from agency to agency to evade consequences.

Lack Of Data Hinders Study Of Police Killings

Police stops are still marred by racial discrimination ...

But try to figure out how many police killings occur annually, and an unsettling answer emerges: Thereâs no official, accurate count.

At a time when police accountability, especially in the deaths of Black people, has become a major public issue, unreliable government numbers fail to portray the true scope, experts say.

âThe federal government has done an abysmal job historically of collecting the data,â says David Klinger, PhD, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Early in his career, Klinger had worked as a police officer in Los Angeles and in Redmond, WA, near Seattle. Much of his academic research has focused on police use of deadly force.

It wasnât surprising, he says, when a recent study in The Lancet, a British medical journal, found that from 1980 to 2018, about 55% of deaths from police violence were wrongly classified as other causes of death in the U.S. National Vital Statistics System. This system tracks all death certificates and causes of death in the country.

âThe misclassification of police violence in NVSS data is extensive,â the researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington wrote.

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Nearly 200 People Die Each Year In Police Encounters

Figure 1 displays the annual counts of fatalities from law enforcement interactions from 2016 to 2019, as reported by three different data sources: the DOJs Deaths in Custody, the DOJs Use of Force data, and the crowdsourced Fatal Encounters. The two DOJ datasets are largely consistent with each other, indicating about 150 people, on average, are killed annually during encounters with law enforcement. The Fatal Encounters data include about 30 percent more fatalities, suggesting that 195 people die annually during police encounters. Importantly, these estimates do not indicate whether these deaths were considered the result of excessive or unreasonable uses of forcewith many of them considered legally and procedurally justified.

How Have Countries Sought To Improve Police

Some countries have moved to diversify their forces. Some U.S. law enforcement experts say police diversity increases innovation, minimizes biases, and improves community relations. Northern Ireland, scarred by between the Catholic minority and Protestant majority, implemented a policy that the two groups each comprise half of its police recruits. This led to widespread trust in police by both groups, experts say, though there are still fewer Catholic officers.

Research on U.S. police has found that hiring more Black officers doesnt necessarily reduce fatal encounters with Black civilians. Similarly, in postapartheid South Africa, which has a national police force, the government has pushed to employ more Black officers, especially in leadership positions yet poor Black communities still suffer disproportionately from police violence.

Departments worldwide have also implemented community policing techniques to ease tensions. This includes deploying community liaisons, which in Australia work alongside officers to reduce crime and foster cross-cultural understanding and communication between police and minority groups. In Richmond, California, community policing efforts slashed crime rates and increased trust in police. Broadly, however, community policing tactics have had mixed results.

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What Does Police Accountability Look Like

UN guidelines state that any effective police accountability system must increase civilian control over the police, investigate cases of misconduct and act swiftly to address them, and reduce corruption.

Many countries rely on independent oversight bodies that have nationwide jurisdiction. In Denmark, an independent watchdog reviews all misconduct complaints and alleged criminal offenses by police. In England and Wales, police forces are legally required to refer serious misconduct cases, including any killing by an officer, to an independent watchdog. That agency also sets standards for how local departments should handle complaints, though fair-policing advocates have questioned its efficacy.

Many complainants of police abuse or misconduct never see an investigation or punishment for the officer involved. Canadian officers involved in fatal interactions are rarely charged, according to one study of such incidents between 2000 and 2017. Likewise, U.S. officers rarely face legal consequences for shooting and killing civilians Chauvins convictions of murder and manslaughter for Floyds killing were exceptions. Police are also often shielded from lawsuits through a controversial doctrine known as qualified immunity. New York City recently moved to curtail this privilege for its police force, which is the countrys largest, and residents of King County, Washington, voted last year to require an investigation of whether an officers conduct caused an individuals death.

Coroners And Medical Examiners

St. Paul Police Investigating ‘Horrifying’ Bar Shootout That Left A Woman Dead, Many Injured

Often, reports from medical examiners and coroners make no mention that police violence contributed to deaths, according to the IHME researchers. In fact, they believe that the death certification system plays a major role in the undercount.

In police-related deaths, a medical examiner or coroner must fill out the cause of death on the death certificate. âHowever, only some cities have forensic pathologists to act as the coroner,â the researchers wrote. âIn small, rural counties, the coroner can be a physician with no forensic training, the sheriff, or a mortician.â

In some cases, police might not tell examiners of their role in the death. If the death certificate does not mention that the person was killed by police, the case could be misclassified.

Also, the researchers wrote, âMany medical examiners and coroners work for or are embedded within police departments,â creating âsubstantial conflicts of interestâ that could discourage them from listing police violence as a cause of death. Also, according to the researchers, one national survey found that 22% of medical examiners have reported being pressured by others, such as coroners, to change the cause of death on a certificate.

If thereâs not adequate information after a death, Burghart says, public suspicion and anger may grow.

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Incidents 70% Involved Shootings

In total, our research found more than 460 incidents spanning the years 2000 to 2017 inclusively, with nearly 70 per cent of cases involving fatal police shootings.

The remainder of cases often involved people dying in restraint after a combination of stun gun deployments, baton strikes and a physical struggle often while the victim exhibited substance abuse symptoms.

Details captured in the database include information about the victims such as their gender, age, race or ethnicity, how they died, how they were armed, whether they had mental health or substance abuse problems, and the location of the incident.

Details about the police involved were also gathered, including police departments, force used, Taser deployments, injuries and outcomes in the justice system.

But this database is constantly changing. In many cases, the events that follow a fatal incident can take years to play out, so new details are constantly emerging as investigations are concluded, or as witnesses come forward.

It was also impossible to confirm certain details in some cases. For example, our researchers could not reliably confirm the race or ethnicity of 22 per cent of the victims, and in about 50 per cent of cases, we could not confirm the mental health or substance abuse history of the victim.

Black And Latino Individuals Are Disproportionately Injured By Firearms Relative To Their Share Of The States Population

California DOJ, Use of Force data 20162019 California OSHPD Hospital Discharge data 20162019 California DOJ RIPA data 2019 American Community Survey 2019.

NOTES: Includes all serious gunshot injuries, including fatal and non-fatal injuries. Serious injuries in hospital discharge data are defined based on primary diagnosis . Race/ethnicity is self-reported and/or based on administrative records in the hospital discharge and Use of Force data. The RIPA stop data contain both pedestrian and vehicle stops from the 15 largest agencies in California.

Finally, when we focus specifically on fatalities, Black and Latino civilians are overrepresented across all of our datasets. While Black people are about 6 percent of the states population, they represent between 16 and 19 percent of fatalities, similar to their share of arrests and stops. Latino people are also overrepresented but to a lesser degree: they account for about 45 percent of deaths from police encounters, but about 39 percent of Californias population. White people are slightly underrepresented, accounting for about one-third of fatalities, despite constituting about 37 percent of Californias population. Similarly, Asians and Pacific Islanders are also underrepresented, comprising about 4 to 5 percent of fatalities, while making up about 15 percent of the population.

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The Share Of Black People Seriously Injured Or Killed During Police Encounters Is About Three Times Their Share Of The State Population

California DOJ, Use of Force data 20162019 California OSHPD hospital discharge data 20162019 California DOJ RIPA data 2019 American Community Survey 2019.

NOTES: Includes all serious injuries, including fatal and non-fatal injuries. Serious injuries in hospital discharge data are defined based on primary diagnosis . Race/ethnicity is self-reported and/or based on administrative records in the hospital discharge and Use of Force data. The RIPA stop data contains both pedestrian and vehicle stops from the 15 largest agencies in California.

Relative to their share of the population, Latinos are overrepresented in the Use of Force data, constituting about 45 percent of all incidents. But according to the hospital data, Latinos make up about 39 percent of patients injured by police, matching their share of the total population. In contrast, a smaller share of white people were seriously injured in police encounters relative to their share of the states population . A similar story is true for Asians and Pacific Islanders, who comprise about 15 percent of the population, but only 2 to 3 percent of those seriously injured in interactions with law enforcement.

Cbc Researchers Tracked Down Details On More Than 460 Canadians Who Died At The Hands Of Police

How Many Americans Do the Cops Kill Each Year?

This story is part of Deadly Force, a CBC News investigation into police-involved fatalities in Canada.

Close to five million Canadians have some form of run-in with police each year.

In the vast majority of cases, these interactions end without aggression or injury. However, about 30 times per year someone dies at the hands of police.

And while the deadly use of force by police can have a significant impact on the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they oversee, no official body in Canada collects or tracks the details of these incidents. Rather, all that exists currently is a patchwork of statistics across provinces or groups of private citizens who are trying to keep tabs on the number of victims.

In 2017, a team of CBC researchers began the process of tracking details surrounding the deaths of citizens during encounters with police by culling thousands of independent investigator reports, coroner reports, court records and news reports, and by conducting family interviews.

The objective: to build a national database of Canadians who were killed by police, or who died following the use of force during a police intervention, and gain insight into the circumstances surrounding these fatal incidents. Over two dozen specific details of each case were identified.

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Understanding The Context Of Police Use Of Force

It is important to consider the circumstances under which police deploy serious use of force. While no data source can collect all of the necessary details, the hospital discharge data shed light on the potential role of mental health and substance use, while the Use of Force data and RIPA stop data provide additional insights into the criminal justice context.

What The Data Say About Police Shootings

On Tuesday 6 August, the police shot and killed a schoolteacher outside his home in Shaler Township, Pennsylvania. He had reportedly pointed a gun at the officers. In Grants Pass, Oregon, that same day, a 39-year-old man was shot and killed after an altercation with police in the state police office. And in Henderson, Nevada, that evening, an officer shot and injured a 15-year-old suspected of robbing a convenience store. The boy reportedly had an object in his hand that the police later confirmed was not a deadly weapon.

In the United States, police officers fatally shoot about three people per day on average, a number thats close to the yearly totals for other wealthy nations. But data on these deadly encounters have been hard to come by.

A pair of high-profile killings of unarmed black men by the police pushed this reality into the headlines in summer 2014. Waves of public protests broke out after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death by chokehold of Eric Garner in New York City.

It is this awesome power that they have that no other profession has, says Justin Nix, a criminologist at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Lets keep track of it.

We need to standardize definitions and start counting, says Stoughton. As the old saying goes, What gets measured, gets managed.

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