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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Police Use of Deadly Force

      When it comes to US police officers firing their weapons, the rules, on paper, are very clear. "Ultimately you come to your firearm as a last resort," says Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Order of Police. "You should only use that weapon in a situation where you felt your life or the lives of civilians in the area were in danger." [The Supreme Court in 1982 ruled that shooting at an unarmed fleeing felon who had not just committed a violent crime was not justified.]

     The use of Kevlar vests and other protective police gear have enabled police officers to work with less fear of their lives than in the past.

     Only a small percentage of the nation's 500,000 police officers are involved in shootings. Most retire without ever firing their gun in the line of duty. Still, officers are 600 times more likely than a non-officer to kill a citizen, and about 400 people are killed a year by police. [According to my research, the police shoot about a thousand people a year, killing about half of them. Over the past few years, the number of police officers who are shot or in some way physically assaulted has been on the rise. Increased hostility and danger from the public has kept the rate of police-involved shootings high.]

"What Goes Through a Policeman's Head Before He Shoots?" BBC, August 20, 2014

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