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> The culture that encourages police officers to engage their weapons before gathering information promotes the mind-set that nothing, including citizen safety, is more important than officers’ personal security.

This seems like the thing police forces need to change in order to fix the situation.

If wishing made it so.

The institution of the police is intrinsically corrupt and unbalanced. This has nothing to do with the fact that your neighbor or your Uncle Joe is a police officer and seems like a perfectly nice person, and joined for all the right reasons, their job is not to keep you safe, it is to keep you under control. All of us, collectively.

I know it's a big complex discussion to have about, "if we didn't have the police, what would blah blah", but instead of recoiling from fear, it's important to address the facts.

And yet this is a bigger problem in the USA than in Europe or Australia.

My German wife says this is (to a large part) a direct consequence of the fact that the US has a much larger population of people with nothing left to lose. Middle class workers working off a mortgage in suburbia are a lot less likely to become violent killers than underprivileged folk who have precious few career options outside of drug dealing in gangs.

That's an incorrect conclusion.

Check out the historical murder rate of Appalachia in the US.

Extremely high gun ownership, extremely low murder rate. I grew up there, deep in poverty, everyone owned guns, and the murder rate was on par with the best of Europe per 100,000 people.

The difference? Cultural. Where I grew up, people simply did not believe in killing each other, period. Desperation was widespread, yet there were no gangs, there were no drive-by shootings.

That's interesting, given the stereotyped belief that Appalachia is the epicentre of a certain type of murder culture.


Nice try, poor logic.

What you call "people [not believing] in killing each other" is a phenomenon that calls for an explanation. I believe that explanation is simply that there's nothing to be gained from killing a desperately poor person. Appalachia (and other poor rural areas) have no gangs because there's no way to make a profit on organized violence. Gangs and the associated violence happen in cities because that's where some of the people, at least, have money that they can spend on drugs or prostitution or simply be robbed of.

So following that logic, I guess if a "rich" person was to drive through Appalachia they would be inevitably doomed?

That's an absurd extrapolation. Please try to follow along here! I'll repeat it slowly for you:

Because there's (in general) little to be gained from robbing people in this area, there are no or few violent street gangs and other forms of organized crime like you'd find in various cities where there's a more colorful mix of rich and poor. Lacking an organized criminal element, Appalachia presents not significantly more (nor less) danger to well-off tourists than any other area where poor people live and a few will -by statistics- be criminals; and considerably less than various cities, certainly various neighborhoods, where robbery and other violent crime are common and more or less an "industry."

The thing is, military forces are bound by international treaties to restrict violence against civilians. Police are not.

Normally domestic politics in a free country would regard the random deaths of civilians as a bad thing, but the US racial divide means that enough white people regard black people being shot by the police as a positive outcome rather than a negative one.

> enough white people regard black people being shot by the police as a positive outcome rather than a negative one

Could you elaborate? "Enough" for what?

Enough that whenever it happens, there are plenty of people keen to manufacture justifications for it being the dead person's fault. If hundreds of Americans were being shot every year by terrorists, there would be an outcry and a demand to invade somewhere. If hundreds of Americans were being killed every year by a faulty product or staff negligence, there would be legal outcry and improved procedures and quality control.

Reducing deaths caused by police requires recognising that every death caused by a police gun - which includes those of violent people with criminal records - as a failure of process.

In the US, most homicide victims are killed by another person of their own race, not by the police. This is true for whites, blacks, hispanics, etc. for the simple fact that races tend to segregate into neighborhoods. For all I know it's also true for non-racial demographics such as homosexuals. Simply put, if you're killed, it's most likely by someone you are related to if not by family then by proximity. This doesn't get a lot of media attention or create a lot of outrage, even though the numbers are much, much higher than police involved killings.

Just to take one example: Hundreds of people kill each other every year in cities like Chicago. Thousands more sustain non-fatal injuries. Sometimes dozens are killed in a single weekend. Homicides and shootings are way up, but police involved shootings by contrast are way down. This does get some local media attention but there is comparatively little national media or public outrage over this compared to relative few killed in police involved shootings.


We have a much bigger problem with citizens killing each other than with police killing citizens. That's not to say that police are perfect, or not often overzealous, or that they shouldn't be held to a higher standard. But the reality is not nearly what is being portrayed by many media and political organizations.

but police involved shootings by contrast are way down.

Not sure if you are referring to Chicago here, but (reported) police _killings_ in the US are way up during the 2000s:


Yes I was referring to Chicago (based on the Chicago Trib story I referenced).

Killings by police, though, are killings ostensibly on our behalf. The blood is on our hands.

"Enough" in that you have people on HN saying pretty much that most of the black people who get shot and killed by police deserved it and that black people are stupid violent criminals so it's no wonder they get killed so often, and that if only they were docile and compliant in the face of police harassment they wouldn't get shot so much.

It's fucking weird seeing that stuff on HN, and it's scary to think how those thoughts look in other less restricted forums.

It's the 21st centuary and there's only just a US president prepared to say "black lives matter". There have been a string of killings by police of innocent black people, and juries refuse to convict.

There's a difference between the way you phrase it and the objective fact that most people who are killed by police are in fact people with lengthy and often violent criminal histories. Not all, of course. But most.

First of all, so what? Somebody with a lengthy and violent criminal history still has just as much of a right not to get killed by police as I do. Only if there is an imminent threat to life which lethal force is required to stop should the police use it.

Second, while true it can still be racist. For an example in a slightly different direction, take a look at Sandra Bland. The whole business started when she got pulled over while driving. One could say that it was totally legitimate to do so, because she did in fact commit a traffic infraction. I would say that it's still bad behavior by the policeman and most likely racist behavior, because it was a trivial infraction that tons of people commit every day, often in front of police, and almost never get pulled over for it.

In the case of victims of police shootings being violent criminals, that may be true for victims of all races, but the violent criminal history is emphasized much more for black people. So even if the histories are there for all races, if the histories are only brought up as justification when the victim is black, then the phrasing you object to is still accurate.

And yet police forces across Europe come into contact with people with lengthy and violent criminal histories without killing them.

Do you have a citation for that? Not that I dispute it, but I don't know it to be true either.

Who The Police Shoot

A vast majority of the people shot by the police in 2011 were men between the ages 25 and 40 who had histories of crime. Overall, people shot by the police were much older than the typical first-time arrestee. A significant number of the people wounded and killed by the authorities were over fifty, some in their eighties. In 2011, the police shot two 15-year-olds, and a girl who was 16.

The police shot, in 2011, about 50 women, most of whom were armed with knives and had histories of emotional distress. Overall, about a quarter of those shot were either mentally ill and/or suicidal. Many of these were "suicide-by-cop" cases.

Most police shooting victims were armed with handguns. The next most common weapon involved vehicles (used as weapons), followed by knives (and other sharp objects), shotguns, and rifles. Very few of these people carried assault weapons, and a small percentage were unarmed. About 50 subjects were armed with BB-guns, pellet guns or replica firearms.

The situations that brought police shooters and their targets together included domestic and other disturbances; crimes in progress such as robbery, assault and carjacking; the execution of arrest warrants; drug raids; gang activities; routine traffic stops; car chases; and standoff and hostage events.

Women make up about 15 percent of the nation's uniformed police services. During 2011, about 25 female police officers wounded or killed civilians. None of these officers had shot anyone in the past. While the vast majority of police officers never fire their guns in the line of duty, 15 officers who did shoot someone in 2011, had shot at least one person before. (This figure is probably low because police departments don't like to report such statistics.) Most police shootings involved members of police departments followed by sheriff's deputies, the state police, and federal officers. These shootings took place in big cities, suburban areas, towns, and in rural areas. Big city shootings comprised about half of these violent confrontations in 2011.


> you have people on HN saying pretty much that most of the black people who get shot and killed by police deserved it and that black people are stupid violent criminals so it's no wonder they get killed so often

I haven't seen anyone say anything so nasty, but I have seen the FBI's crime statistics:

Blacks make up 13.2% of the population, yet are arrested for 49.4% of the murders (3.7x their share), 32.5% of the forcible rapes (2.4x), 54.9% of the robberies (4.1x), 34.1% of the aggravated assaults (2.5x), 38.5% of the violent arson (2.9x) and 31.9% of other assaults (2.4x). The numbers for whites (77.1% of the population) are 48.2% of the murders (.6x),

Now, it's important to note that the explanation is almost certainly due to poverty and class; class in America being unfortunately highly correlated with race. It's also important to note there are almost certainly structural factors which protect some whites from being fairly arrested and lead to some blacks being unfairly arrested.

Given those violent crime statistics, is it not understandable that people in a potentially violent situation fear more for their lives when facing a random black, who is approximately 6.1 times more likely to commit murder than a random white?

And in fact, adjusted for the racial disparity in homicides, the police are 1.7 times more likely to kill whites than blacks; adjusted for the racial disparity in cop-killing, the police are 1.3 times more likely to kill whites than blacks[1].

'Black people' are not 'stupid violent criminals,' and anyone who says so is a racist idiot. But a higher percentage of black people are violent criminals, and thus it's no wonder that a higher percentage (but fewer absolutely, and fewer adjusted for the higher rate of crime!) get killed for violent crime.

Now, how does one reduce the racial disparity (by reducing the rate of black criminality to that of white criminality, not vice versa, I hope)? That's really tough to answer. Maybe it has something to do with ending the War on Some Drugs, which takes fathers away from their families; maybe it involves basic income, which would eliminate poverty; maybe it involves school choice and/or vouchers, to enable blacks to escape terrible schools and get good educations; maybe it involves using social persuasion to reduce the culture of violence (fat chance when that culture is so highly profitable!).

[1] http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/21/police-kill-...

black people = thugs in most white people's minds. Of course there is always one black guy they like,"but he's different hey ?"...

[citation needed]

While possibly helpful for assessing one's own biases, that site seems to provide no collective stats, and that's what's in question here.

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