How many Americans die from police shootings

Police problems in the US

Highly equipped and untrained: In 37 states, police officers are allowed to patrol without police training

Since the George Floyd protests against racism and police brutality and the killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, the police themselves have been in the line of fire. Calls for reforms are loud, for cuts in police funds ("Defund the Police!") Or a move towards de-escalating police work. American society discusses the systemic and structural problems of a profession that is popular culture like no other as heroized as demonized as that of law enforcement. But in everyday police life, many are overwhelmed by the dangers in a country where there are more privately owned firearms than there are residents.

According to statistics from the Washington Post, police officers have shot dead over 5,400 people since 2015. Officials were attacked in two thirds of all cases. Well over half of the victims carried a firearm. Many were armed in some other way, only about 350 were "unarmed". In every fifth case the person shot - armed and unarmed - suffered from a serious mental illness at the time of their death. Law enforcement, by some estimates, spends 21 percent of their time responding to or transporting incidents involving people with mental illness.

"We are asking too much of ourselves," said former Dallas police chief David Brown in an interview in 2016. "We postpone any social failure so the police can solve it. That is asking too much. The police was never there to solve all of these problems, "said Brown.

Every year around 150 officers die during an operation, a large number of them from firearms. But more cops are killing themselves. 228 officers died by suicide in 2019. A 2013 study published by the National Institutes of Health also found that the average life expectancy for a police officer is 57 years, nearly 22 years less than that of the general population.

21 weeks of police training

The United States spends over $ 115 billion a year on all policing. However, there seems to be little left for law enforcement training. This lasts from just ten to 36 weeks, depending on the state, with a national average of around 840 hours. Each state has its own requirements for police academies. For some, a high school diploma is enough; others require a college degree or two years of military service.

The Minneapolis, City of George Floyds Police College and his killer Derek Chauvin trains young budding police officers for 16 weeks before they are assigned guns and sent out onto the streets as novice police officers. They then spend six months escorting police officers to show them what to do. The Police Academy in Atlanta, where Rayshard Brooks was shot dead, requires police recruits to complete 21 weeks of training, followed by a further 12 weeks of training on the field.

"It is problematic that we have 18,000 different police stations and that there are no national standards," says Maria Haberfeld, professor of police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the broadcaster CBS. In many US police departments, it is also not uncommon for not a few officers to try to avoid the burden of training newcomers. What remains, according to Haberfeld, are aging officials who have not undergone any training or further training for decades, the task of introducing young police officers to police work.

According to the latest survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, key areas of training include operational drills (an average of 213 hours per recruit), firearms, self-defense and violence (168 hours), self-improvement (89 hours), and legal training (86 hours). Most states forego telling the police to learn de-escalation tactics to avoid shootings.

In 2017, a group of eleven police organizations issued a new model policy for police stations that for the first time contained the concept of "de-escalation". Police officers should no longer only act according to prima ratio and use deadly force. In Salt Lake City, after a series of controversial police shootings, police have stepped up de-escalation training and even started to award individual officers with de-escalation awards for defusing potentially violent situations. Salt Lake City police have not killed anyone in 20 months since this policy was introduced in 2015.

On duty without training

The United States has nearly 700,000 police officers on duty. Every year 45,000 young police officers are added who have successfully completed basic training to more or less ensure law and order. Basic police training, however, is only required in 13 states for police service.

In 36 states, however, anyone who is hired by a law enforcement agency can go on patrol with badges and a gun without formal training while the training is catched up. The recruits are given different amounts of time for this. According to a listing by The Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform, nine states have half a year for basic training. In twenty states - including those with the highest crime rates like Louisiana, New Mexico, and South Carolina - rookies have a generous twelve months to catch up on training. In Missouri, which has the second highest homicide rate in the United States, as well as Kansas and North Dakota, there is no deadline for training.

This practice is often justified with high costs and personnel expenses. The probationary period is also an opportunity to learn whether you are suitable for police work before investing thousands of dollars in police training.

Overmilitarization since 9/11

Not only the poor training leads to the frequent use of fatal police violence, but also the heavy militarization of the police. Ryan Welch and Jack Mewhirter, in a 2017 study, found a direct link between increasing militarization and the increase in killings by police officers.

In 1998, approximately $ 9.4 million in equipment was transferred to 290 law enforcement agencies. That amount began to increase dramatically after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. As of 2014, 3,029 law enforcement agencies had received transfers valued at nearly $ 800 million. Between 2006 and 2014, the LEAs received a range of military equipment valued at over $ 1.5 billion: more than 6,000 mine-proof, hold-up vehicles (MRAPs), 79,288 assault rifles, 205 grenade launchers, 11,959 bayonets, 50 aircraft, 422 helicopters and 3, $ 6 million in camouflage and other "deception equipment".

If a non-military district suddenly receives $ 2,539,767 worth of equipment (the largest figure that went to any agency in our data), that district is likely to have more than twice as many civilians in the following year to die.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security have increased the availability of military-grade weapons and equipment to local and state police forces. The proliferation of military equipment has had a noticeable impact on the American police force - and the communities in which they operate - say Welch and Mewhirter. It is part of the trend towards the militarization of the police to train them as if they were in a war zone.

According to a recent Politico poll, a total of 59 percent of respondents believe that police departments across the country need either a full overhaul (22 percent) or major reforms (37 percent). But that support does not extend to the slogan "Defund the Police," which some activists say is about law enforcement reform as much as budget cuts. In a ratio of 2: 1, more voters are against the "Defund the Police" movement (57 percent) than they support (29 percent). More than 4 in 10 voters (43 percent) strongly oppose the movement. (Bulgan Molor-Erdene)

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