Over a seven-year period, a white officer killed a black person nearly two times a week in the United States, according to FBI data. Letters to the editor:
Law enforcement cannot have it both ways. On the one hand, your article “Local police kill 400 a year” states that many police departments are opposed to establishing a national database on fatalities at the hands of police. It states that only 750 out of 17,000 law enforcement agencies in this country contribute to the existing database.
However, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) complained in a report that public perception about police use of force “is framed and influenced by the media depictions, which present unrealistic and often outlandish representations.” If the group wants fair and accurate reporting, then it should mandate that agencies participate. Police have the statutory authority to make life and death decisions, and police are human and subject to prejudices, psychological pathologies, racial bias, corruption, poor judgment and all the other foibles of mankind.
But because their decisions can result in abuse and fatalities, transparency and public oversight should be mandatory whether they object to it or not.
Edward Lumas; Grand Rapids, Mich.
Your article on police shootings would have benefited from a less superficial interpretation of skimpy data. It failed to mention the local crime rate or number of police officers and innocent bystanders killed by violent crimes.
Moreover, the article states that blacks make up 70% of the residents of Ferguson, Mo., but then fails to differentiate data based on dissimilar demographics. You appear to have included communities that are mostly white (Albuquerque) or mostly black (New Orleans), for example, in your analysis of police response. A major problem with databases is the misuse of data to support a bias. Your readers deserve a more scholarly article.
Jim Conner; Saint Davids, Pa.
Comments from Facebook are edited for clarity and grammar:
We will never know the real number of people killed by police because complete statistics aren’t kept. Whether the killings were justified or not, it seems that would be an easy statistic to keep.
Last year, 111 police died in the line of duty. Of those, 46 were from traffic accidents and 14 from heart attacks. It’s a myth that large numbers of police are being killed by bad guys.
— Jason Rogers
Police departments are like any other organization; you are going to have a few bad individuals. However, just think where you would be without police protection.
— Richard Schulze
It amazes me when I read some reader comments such as police officers make mistakes sometimes and kill the wrong people, or collateral damage happens all the time.
What I see is the dehumanization of people. These arguments might make sense until someone you care about becomes a statistic! And when that time comes, remember your words.
— Rod Smith