According to Black Lives Matter and similar anti-police organizations, the most important things to know about police violence are that there is a large and growing racial disparity in fatal police violence and that, as a result, the police are killing extraordinarily large numbers of Black men and women these days. Last week, however, the Lancet published a report that casts doubt on both of those claims. The report, “Fatal police violence by race and state in the USA, 1980–2019: a network meta-regression,” provides the following chart that summarizes its findings:
This chart shows is that, while police killings have increased slightly since 1980, that slight increase is driven almost entirely by a dramatic increase in the violent deaths of non-Hispanic white people. As the report states:
In 1980, the national age-standardised mortality rate due to police violence was 0·19 (95% UI 0·16 to 0·22) for non-Hispanic White people; by 2019, this had increased to 0·32 (0·30 to 0·34).
That’s an increase of more than 50%. On the other hand, the mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black people declined by about 30% over the same period. As a result, the racial disparity in mortality due to police violence has declined by a factor of three!
H/T: Lyman Stone