28 July 2016

Statistics Regarding Police Deaths

Consider what you hear.

Those who are hysterical about the number of police deaths are not telling the whole truth. The current reports about a huge spike are misleading.

From 1980-2014 police deaths in the line of duty averaged 64 per year.

From 1990-2010 the average is 164 per year.

The numbers went way down in 2012. Of course you also have to watch... are they accidental deaths in the line of duty or cases of being 'feloniously' killed in the line of duty? The numbers are up this year compared to last year, but that too is a little misleading. Last year was lower than average.

As of the end of July 2016, we're at 66. Again, that's not a low number but in terms of averages, it's not even as high as it was in 2014.

Of course it's also ironic and unreported by the Right that more police officers die in the states with... yes, more guns.

The present hysteria is due to at least two factors.

One, the particularly dramatic police killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Two, backlash directed against Black Lives Matter and other movements calling attention to police killings of civilians.

And of course, it's a political season. Every news item is politicised even beyond what is normal.

By way of contrast, the Killed by Police website indicates that 2016's numbers are higher than ever, though not dramatically higher than the last couple of years. The big increase came in 2014.

Trump's statistics are misleading in general. Crime and murders are actually down compared to where they were just a generation ago.


  1. A couple of observations:

    First, regarding crime statistics. If one is going to say that the crime rate has declined, then one has to specify where. It's true, for example, that criminal activity in places like the Bronx and Harlem have plummeted drastically compared to what they were in the 1970s and 80s but that's largely due to the heavy-handed tactics of mayors like Rudy Giuliani and the gentrification of those neighborhoods. Those who are either destitute or of the working classes are effectively forced out by higher rents and property taxes. It would be more accurate to focus on the crime rate of a single city or neighborhood, specifically one in which economic growth is stagnant or non-existent. I'm sure, for example, all kinds of weird stuff goes on in the rust belt.

    Secondly, while rates of what could be considered "conventional" crimes may be down, this year in particular seems to have furnished us with no shortage of mass shootings and not just in the United States but all over the world. Personally, I believe that the current anxiety regarding the economic future of the country goes a long way to explaining why this is happening, along with the glorification of violence and irresponsible gun use in American culture. Another factor is the profound sense of alienation felt by all those responsible for these horrendous crimes. In saying this, I'm not excusing their actions; I'm merely trying to provide context to them.


    1. Your statements about crime statistics are true and statistics are easily manipulated. Murders and crimes along those lines are definitely down compared to the 1970s etc....
      Yet, the drug war has generated a different order of crimes. I know (unscientifically) that the police are reluctant to pursue many petty crimes because the District Attorney will only prosecute if there's a very high probability of conviction. They don't have the money to lose and... it's an elected office. Thus, many crimes are ignored and instead it seems like the police spend an inordinate amount of time harassing motorists and adjudicating food fights at junior high schools etc...
      The mass shootings are definitely a rampant and increasing problem. That's a crime of a different stripe and more indicative of the cultural zeitgeist.
      The idolising of a specific reading of the 2nd amendment and the glorification of violence by the conservative and Christian community doesn't help.
      And yes, NYC was cleaned up through draconian policies and gentrification which has driven out the poor and/or concentrated them in quasi-police states. Giuliani is very pleased with himself. I think he would have made a good Nazi... and I don't say that in jest.
      I reject the Obama view that all is rosy in America. Far from it but Trump's fearmongering is also problematic. The truth is the system is self-perpetuating and dependent on some of the present legal and criminal justice paradigms. The Drug War is big money and limited chaos also serves a purpose. The soldiers on the ground don't see the big picture. If they do, they get out and either turn activist or sit in a dark room nursing bourbon.
      I think if Trump was able to actually apply some of his agenda it would generate chaos and we'd end up with a police state or collapse.

  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/nyregion/bill-bratton-nypd-commissioner.html?_r=0

    Speaking of heavy-handed tactics, many were stunned when de Blasio picked Bratton to repeat as NYPD commissioner. Bratton was the face and arm of Giuliani's utter contempt for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution as a whole.

    On YouTube you can find former mayor Koch promoting his book about Guiliani in 1999: