Shackford reflects on the revelation that last year was an all-time low for killings of police and a 20-year high for killings by police:
It’s an important reminder when Cleveland police kill a 12-year-old boy carrying a toy gun. It’s an important reminder when we see stories that police have killed more people in Utah over the past five years than any other form of violence outside of domestic conflict. Police have killed more people in Utah since 2010 than gangs or drug dealers. Obviously, it’s a positive that fewer officers are being killed in the line of duty, just as it’s a positive that crime trends are heading down. We should be worried, though, if police internalize the idea that this increase in their own shootings is what is keeping them safe in the field and not the general drop in crime.
The BLS said law enforcement accounted for 2 percent of total U.S. fatal on-the-job injuries in 2013, with 31 percent of those injuries caused by homicide. Other studies on the deaths of officers in the line of duty also showed police were far less likely to be killed in 2013 than they had been in decades. According to a count by the Officer Down Memorial Page, which collects data on line-of-duty incidents, there were far fewer deaths last year than in more than 40 years.
A 2013 tally by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund showed 100 officers died in the line of duty last year, the fewest since 1944. Traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer deaths in 2013. The report found that “firearms-related fatalities reached a 126-year low … with 31 officers shot and killed, the lowest since 1887 when 27 officers were shot and killed.”
Ingraham points out that the true number of individuals killed by police is unknown:
It’s particularly worth noting that the FBI data on justifiable homicides is widely understood to be substantially undercounted — some states don’t participate in the FBI’s data-gathering programs at all, and others don’t tally justifiable homicides separately. So while the figures above are useful for generating a trend, the actual national numbers are considerably higher.
Ellen Nakashima provides more details on the subject:
Federal officials allow the nation’s more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies to self-report officer shootings. That figure, [Wes] Lowery reported, hovers around 400 “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement each year. Several independent trackers, primarily journalists and academics who study criminal justice, insist the accurate number of people shot and killed by police officers each year is consistently upwards of 1,000 each year, Lowery reported.
Update from a reader:
Please stop writing, or allowing people to write, that the gun the boy in Cleveland was carrying was a “toy” gun or a “fake” gun. It was a BB gun that looked very much like a semiautomatic pistol. Maybe you can post this picture and let readers decide: