Examining the Magnitude of American Police Killings Beyond a Racial Lens

The 3 reasons why American police kill 1,000 civilians every year

J.C. Peters
Dialogue & Discourse
9 min readNov 23, 2020

--

Photo by Sean Lee on Unsplash

Left-Leaning media contend that police killings are the result of systemic racism. But however powerful the anecdotal evidence might seem, this view is not supported by empirical data.

Yes, black Americans are killed at more than twice the rate of white people. But that does not mean racism is the cause of this disparity. In fact, a thorough analysis of racial differences in police use of force by Harvard Professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr. found “no racial differences” in officer-involved shootings.

Explaining the disparity between the anecdotal evidence widely covered in the news and the outcome of his research, Professor Freyer, who is black, said: “The types of encounters that lead to police shootings in the videos that we have all seen are not the most common that actually occur in the data. In Houston, for instance, most of the officer-involved shootings come from calls for service resulting from burglaries or violent crimes, not from chasing down people with broken taillights.”

I don’t want to go too much into the reasons why the media have framed police killings primarily as a systemic racism issue, except to say that this narrative…

--

--

J.C. Peters
Dialogue & Discourse

Author of History That Changed the World (Odyssea Publishing, 2017). Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, on CNBC, The Hill, Quartz, and other media.