Police have shot and killed around 1000 people in the United States every year since 2015, according to the Washington Post. I say "according to the Washington Post" because our country doesn't actually keep extensive or even accurate data in regards to police firearm use. The FBI publishes a list of "justifiable homicides" by law enforcement, but that list often discounts the number of reported killings -- as accounted for by independent trackers -- by more than half. Is the FBI really just this bad at bookkeeping, or do they consider every other death at the hands of police a justifiable homicide?
Regardless, if you were raised in this system, you might believe things have to be this way, much like a rat raised in captivity probably believes the best way to get food is to run around in a circle eight times before itching its tummy and pushing a lever. But, it turns out other countries do things a little differently. And while none of those countries invented the "Go Topless Jeep Weekend," some of their practices still might be worth taking note of.
German police forces not only publish deaths at the hands of a firearm, but they also publish rounds fired, rounds hit, rounds missed, warning shots, and injuries. Every bullet is accounted for, and it could be one reason why they had only 10 killings by police in 2015. The Netherlands keep similar statistics and make publicly available every case in which a round hits a person.
In South Africa, an independent investigative department monitors the police. That department then publishes its findings on every incident of death as a result of police action as well as an annual report on the performance indicators of police activity. In countries such as Iceland (where nearly one-third of the citizenry is armed by the way), Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom, the police will only carry firearms in situations they are expected to use them, if at all.
Because here's the real kicker: Most police work does not require having a gun.
George Floyd did not die by a bullet. His cause of death was asphyxiation brought about by compression of the neck. Still, it could easily be argued that the officer who killed him, and the three other officers who prevented bystander intervention were empowered to do so because they were armed.
Breonna Taylor did die by a bullet. Police gunned her down after they entered her home under a "no-knock" search warrant. It turned out the suspect they were looking for was already in police custody after selling substances from a drug house more than 10 miles away. The report covering Breonna Taylor's death was nearly blank.
I don't know whether the solution is to defund the police, disarm the police, abolish the police, or something else entirely. But we're clearly doing something wrong here, and it's all the more frustrating because everyone else seems to have figured it out already.
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