Healthcare

Thousands sent to emergency rooms every year due to violent police encounters: investigation

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More than 400,000 people have been treated in emergency rooms as a result of violent interactions with police since 2015, according to an analysis published Wednesday by NBC News and The Marshall Project. 

The report revealed that while arrests very rarely include uses of force by police, more than half of the incidents when force is used resulted in a suspect or civilian getting injured. 

However, NBC and the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization centered on justice system issues, pointed out that there is a lack of comprehensive national data on hospitalizations and injuries resulting from interactions with police. 

The news outlets reported that while they were able to track emergency room visits since 2015 with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they noted that many of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. do not specifically record the number of people who require medical care after violent interactions with police, including when officers break their arms, bruise them or shock them with stun guns.  

Based on hospital treatment rates obtained by NBC and police use of force data from four large police departments from 2017-2020, more than 40 percent of police use of force incidents in San Jose, Calif., required a person to receive medical attention, with roughly 38 percent resulting in hospitalization in Denver. 

In Mesa, Ariz., about 35 percent of violent police encounters resulted in hospitalizations, compared to just over 30 percent of Chicago incidents, according to NBC. 

The report comes following a year of more fervent calls for justice system reform and an end to police brutality, particularly after the police killing of George Floyd and other unarmed Black individuals. 

Following months of civil unrest and demands for reforms, multiple states have implemented measures seeking to reduce the number of deadly or violent outcomes from police use of force incidents. 

On Tuesday, Wisconsin Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed a bill banning the use of police chokeholds except in “life−threatening situations or in self−defense.” 

This specific use of force method, which is not taught as a compliance technique in law enforcement training in Wisconsin and several other states, came under scrutiny after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for roughly nine minutes leading to his death. 

President Biden has also urged members of Congress to pass a police reform bill, with top negotiators Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) aiming to make progress on a proposal before the July 4 recess. 

Biden is expected to deliver remarks from the White House Wednesday afternoon on the rise in violent crime across the country in the past 18 months, as well as the recent surge in gun violence.

Tags Chokeholds Cory Booker George Floyd hospitalizations Joe Biden Karen Bass Minneapolis NBC News police use of force taser Tim Scott Tony Evers use of force Wisconsin

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