American police kill more citizens each year than any other first world country has in over 20 years; even those whose citizens are allowed guns, and some with quadruple the population.
Police brutality in the United States has been a top issue lately, thanks to social media movements that continue to bring injustices to light, gathering more accurate information than recorded by the government. So far in 2016, according to a comprehensive list done by The Counted, police have killed 651 people; 320 were white, 165 black (though they only make up 13% of the population, therefore were 5x more likely to be shot by a police officer than white people), 106 Hispanic, 10 Asian, 13 Native American and 37 were “other/unknown”.
In 2015, a shocking 1,146 people were killed by police in the US. Of those killed, 229 of them were unarmed. So given the fact that the US has about 319 million in population, people are killed in the US at a rate of .00000359%
That’s a ‘small statistic’, but that’s a part of the problem. In a business or a corporation like, say, Walmart, they account for a certain yearly amount of “losses”. Let’s say Walmart expects at least $100K in theft or broken merchandise every year, so they write it off – they don’t expect that revenue. So people tend to look at the US as if it was a business, in that there are an expected amount of losses that are deemed acceptable.
The problem with that is this country is not a business. This country is full of people, and lives are significantly more important than the amount of revenue you claim on your taxes. I suppose if you’re Donald Trump and his supporters, you expect a country to be a run like a business, but that is not a sentiment shared by the rest of the world.
To put this in perspective, US police kill more people in days than other countries do in years. While England and Wales have about 56 million people, police have only killed 55 people in the last 24 years. In 2015, ONE PERSON was killed by police in the UK. ONE. OUT OF ALMOST 57 MILLION PEOPLE. (Only one police officer died in 2015 in the UK as well, as he was accidentally run over during a police chase).
This disparity is repeated when the US is compared to other larger countries as well, such as Germany, Canada, Australia and all other first world nations.
In fact, police in the US kill citizens over 70 times more than other first world nations. China, who has a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, saw the death of only 12 people in 2014. That means the US, a country that is 4.5 times smaller than China, managed to kill people 92% more.
WHAT IS AMERICA’S PROBLEM?
That is a multi-faceted conversation.
The United States imprisons about 25% of all people imprisoned in the entire world (though we contain only about 5% of the world’s population). That’s 2.3 million inmates, because of the “war on drugs” and the militarization of police.
During military occupation in a country at war, the US military takes a lot of prisoners in for interrogation on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it seems to do the very same to its own people. They arrest, taze, or pepper spray peaceful protestors, seize and search cars, homes, and people without consent, and are very likely to shoot multiple rounds at a person who is running away or “resisting arrest”.
WHAT ARE OTHER COUNTRIES DOING INSTEAD?
In places such as Norway, for example, police are much less likely to draw their weapons on suspects and less likely to even pull the trigger. Most of the time, Norway officers are unarmed and trained instead in hand-to-hand combat.
In the US, there is an average of 88 firearms per 100 people (at least as of 2007). In Norway, there are 31.3 firearms per 100 people – still a significant amount. Yet, police almost never pull the trigger. In fact, Norway police have only killed 2 people in the past 10 years. In Canada, there are about 30.8 firearms per 100 people and they experience about 25 gun deaths every year
Police in Norway also require at least 3 years of training before they’re allowed in the field, compared to a mere 19 weeks of training for US police officers. In Germany, police are required at least 2 and a half years before they are fully qualified. Police are trained to de-escalate situations and use minimal violence in response to a threat. In New Zealand, officers are “placed in authority to protect rather than oppress the public.”
Paul Hirschfield, an associate professor at Rutgers, states that there are examples of similar restrictions for how to respond to gun violence. “In Finland, officers have to get permission from a superior officer before shooting. In Spain, officers should fire a warning shot, then aim for non-vital body parts, before resorting to lethal shooting. In the United States, you only shoot to kill. You only use deadly force,” he states.
Officers who shoot with deadly force in the US are also very likely to be protected by the law, in order to make sure officers don’t hesitate to kill in the future – the exact opposite policy enacted in other countries.
Police brutality, while exponentially more harmful to minorities in the US, is a huge, dangerously increasing problem for us all.
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