American police are conspicuous for their use of deadly force

Police in the United States are conspicuous for their reliance on deadly force, particularly in comparison with other countries in the developed world, but they often keep such killing secret as is the case in Cherry Hill, where New Jersey authorities have yet to release details about last week’s fatal police-involved shooting.

The trend of fatal police shootings in the United States appears to be increasing, with a total 787 civilians having been shot, 73 of whom were Black, as of September 29, 2022.

1,039 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year
Updated Oct. 7, 2022

Fatal police shootings set a record in 2021, when there were 1,055 people shot dead by law enforcement officers. In 2020, there were 1,020 such killings.

The rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans was much higher than that for any other ethnicity, standing at 41 fatal shootings per million of the population as of September 2022.

Although half of the people shot and killed by police are White, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate.

They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population but Black Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.

A recent Rutgers study suggested that police lethality in the U.S. diverges from similar countries because American law enforcement officers lack adequate training.

The 2019 rate of fatal police shootings in the United States (3.1 per million) was five times greater than Australia’s (0.64) and 22 times higher than France’s (0.14).

There are also five times as many fatal police shootings in the United States as there are in Canada, for every million people in the population.

Police in the U.S. deal with more diverse, distressed and aggrieved populations and are involved in more incidents involving firearms, but they average only five months of classroom training – the briefest among 18 countries examined in a Rutgers study.

The researchers also identified elevated rates of gun violence—which fosters a preoccupation with danger and wide latitude to use preemptive force—and plus discord due to ethnic and racial inequality.

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