Police-involved shootings in the United States have been increasing in frequency and causing significant harm to communities of color, leading to a lack of trust in law enforcement and a need for reform.
This issue is particularly important because police-involved shootings result in preventable deaths, injuring and traumatizing not only the individuals directly involved but also their families and communities. Furthermore, evidence suggests that racial bias plays a significant role in the disproportionate use of deadly force against communities of color. This has led to widespread public concern and a pressing need for reforms to promote accountability and transparency in law enforcement.
Problem Statement (Perspective): Police-involved shootings in the United States have been a persistent issue, with a staggering average of 1,000 fatalities per year from 2015 to 2020. A racial disparity in the use of deadly force has been identified, with Black Americans disproportionately represented among those killed, accounting for 25% of fatalities despite only making up 13% of the population. The high number of police-involved shootings and the racial disparities they highlight have caused significant harm to communities of color and eroded trust in law enforcement. It is important to bring attention to this pressing issue and its impact on communities across the country.
1. Implementing and enforcing the use of body-worn cameras is one potential solution to reduce police-involved shootings. Evidence suggests that these cameras can be effective in decreasing such incidents. According to a report, between 2017 and 2018, the use of body cameras increased by 3% and the total number of police shootings dropped from 906 to 888. This highlights the positive impact that body-worn cameras can have on improving police practices and fostering greater accountability and transparency in law enforcement
2. Mental health is a major contributor to police-involved shooting incidents. Despite this, police officers are often not equipped with the necessary skills and training to handle such situations appropriately. To address this challenge, it is essential for police departments to incorporate mental health training into their training procedures. This will enable officers to identify individuals with mental health conditions more effectively and respond to such incidents in a manner that prioritizes public safety. The data supports the impact of this training, showing a significant 11.89% decrease in police shootings per day between 2015 and 2020. In 2015, mental health was a factor in 25% of shootings, whereas in 2020 it was a factor in only 12% of shootings. This represents a significant reduction, with 965 shootings recorded in 2015 compared to just 374 shootings in 2020.
3. In the year 2020, official records indicate that there were a total of 374 police shootings, with 47% of these incidents involving suspects who were attempting to evade law enforcement. The findings of the report also demonstrate a significant disparity in the racial backgrounds of individuals who were shot by police. Out of the total number of 374 shootings, 194 were individuals of Caucasian descent, whereas 103 were individuals of African American descent. Despite representing only 13% of the overall population, this data suggests that African Americans are disproportionately impacted by police shootings. This serves to underscore the importance of ongoing efforts to address racial disparities in law enforcement practices and promote fairness and equity in the treatment of all individuals. To that end, I will suggest that mandatory training in the effective administration of force and de-escalation tactics be made a requirement for all law enforcement personnel.
Princeton, Texas, United States.