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New Analysis Contradicts the Standard Narrative Regarding Police Killings

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

Jon Guze / Senior Fellow, Legal Studies

Jon Guze is the Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over twent...