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Police Killed Over 5000 People During The Past Ten Years — And Didn't Report It: Average of 545 Killings by Police Go Unreported Each Year

You’re 55 Times More Likely to be Killed by a Police Officer than a Terrorist: At least 194 people have been killed by U.S. police since January 1, 2015. At least 1,101 were killed in 2014. At least 2,059 have been killed since May 1, 2013. Source: killedbypolice.net

Photo by Global Panorama.
Photo by Global Panorama.

By Tom McCarthy
An average of 545 people killed by local and state law enforcement officers in the US went uncounted in the country’s most authoritative crime statistics every year for almost a decade, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The first-ever attempt by US record-keepers to estimate the number of uncounted “law enforcement homicides” exposed previous official tallies as capturing less than half of the real picture. The new estimate – an average of 928 people killed by police annually over eight recent years, compared to 383 in published FBI data – amounted to a more glaring admission than ever before of the government’s failure to track how many people police kill.

The revelation called into particular question the FBI practice of publishing annual totals of “justifiable homicides by law enforcement” – tallies that are widely cited in the media and elsewhere as the most accurate official count of police homicides.

This Investigation Proves the FBI's Statistics on
Police Killings Are A Sham


The new estimates added crucial framing to a criminal justice crisis in the US that was coming into sharp focus this week. A Justice Department report expected to be published on Wednesday exposed serial civil rights abuses by police in Ferguson, Missouri. On Monday, the president’s taskforce on policing issued recommendations for better data collection as part of a call for top-to-bottom criminal justice reform.

“There was a great emphasis on the need to collect more data,” Barack Obama said after a meeting with the taskforce. “Right now, we do not have a good sense, and local communities do not have a good sense, of how frequently there may be interactions with police and community members that result in a death, result in a shooting.”

The president’s warning of a national blind spot on police killings significantly amplified growing calls for policing reforms and for a revolution in crime statistics. Yet Obama did not, perhaps, capture just how bad the information was that the country has been working with. Independent tallies had previously indicated that the FBI’s “justifiable homicide” counts were flawed. But until recently, the FBI discouraged challenges to its numbers, insisting that they were carefully audited – and pointing out that the bureau, in any case, was required by law to publish them.

Tuesday’s bureau of justice statistics (BJS) report, produced in collaboration with RTI International, the research institute, explodes the notion – if its findings are accurate – that the figures the FBI publishes annually are anything other than hugely misleading.

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