GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After several high-profile deaths at the hands of police officers, pressure has mounted across the country demanding police reform. Still, there is no federal government entity charged with a comprehensive track of police shootings.
The FBI launched the National Use of Force Data Collection in 2015 and first started compiling statistics on law enforcement incidents in 2019. However, the databank relies on law enforcement agencies from across the country to submit that information voluntarily.
According to the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, there are 18,514 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in the United States. In 2021, only 8,226 agencies submitted data for the National Use of Force Data Collection — or 44%.
Nonprofits and other groups have tried to fill the gaps and compile the information. D. Brian Burghart, a journalist from Nevada, runs a blog called Fatal Encounters that is dedicated to tracking and archiving all known deadly officer-involved shootings. Burghart counts more than 31,000 between 2000 and 2021 in the U.S.
One of the most thorough reports is from the Washington Post. The newspaper started logging every deadly officer-involved shooting in 2015, one year after an investigation revealed federal data was drastically undercounting them. Journalists at the Washington Post say they rely on news reports, social media postings and police reports to compile their data.
DIGGING INTO THE DATA
As of June 2, 2022, an estimated 7,426 people have been shot and killed by law enforcement officers since the start of 2015. Numbers are roughly the same each year, close to 1,000 deaths. 2021 was the deadliest year to date with 1,054 people killed.
The vast majority of those killed are young men — 95%. The three most common age ranges are 30-34, 25-29 and 35-39. More than half of all those killed are between 20 and 40 years old.
White people make up the majority of those killed, but Black Americans are killed at a far higher rate.
Of the counted deadly police shootings, the race is known for 6,010. In at least 3,059 cases, the person killed was white — or a ratio of 16 per million people. The person was Black in at least 1,615 cases — a ratio of 39 per million people. Hispanic people are also disproportionately killed — 1,093 and a ratio of 28 per million.
According to the Washington Post’s data, Michigan police have killed 126 people since 2015, which is on the lower end per capita. Alaska (51) and New Mexico (158) have the two highest ratios per capita.