National Security

More than half of police killings go unreported, study finds

More than half of deaths at the hands of police went unreported over the past four decades, according to a new study published this week by The Lancet comparing federal fatality data with several independent databases. 

The study, which specifically looked at fatal police violence across the country from 1980 to 2019, tracked deaths based on information from nongovernmental data firms Fatal Encounters, Mapping Police Violence and The Counted. 

Based on this information, the researchers noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), which tracks deaths and births in the U.S., did not report roughly 55 percent of “all deaths attributable to police violence.” 

The analysis calculated roughly 30,800 deaths from police violence from 1980 to 2019, or 17,100 more than what is included in the NVSS. 

The report also noted that for deaths of Black Americans due to police violence, an estimated 59 percent went unreported over the past 40 years. 

Additionally, the study found that based on analysis of independent data, Black Americans are about 3.5 times more likely to die from police violence than white Americans, with Hispanic Americans 1.8 times more likely compared to white U.S. citizens. 

The report’s co-author, Eve Wool, told ABC News that the research confirms longstanding complaints of systemic racism in law enforcement and policing. 

The researcher said that “even when unarmed, Black Americans experienced disproportionately high levels of police contact, even for crimes that Black and white folks committed at the same rates.” 

The research comes amid a surge in calls for police and justice system reform, especially following the wave of civil unrest spurred by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

While several state and local police departments across the country have worked to try to implement reforms, activists have also called for greater protections for Americans at the federal level. 

Despite months of talks among a bipartisan group of lawmakers on a possible police reform bill, the senators announced late last month that deep divisions on certain key provisions led the negotiations to officially end. 

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who has been negotiating with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), said at the time “even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal.” 

Meanwhile, Scott placed the blame on Democrats, saying that provisions of Democratic proposals that would have tied certain reforms to police funding would be damaging to law enforcement.

Tags ABC Cory Booker Karen Bass Law enforcement Minneapolis Police Department police brutality Police use of deadly force in the United States The Lancet Tim Scott
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