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Monday, February 28, 2022

Police Involved Shootings: Context and perspective

Those who claim there's an epidemic of police involved shootings would be wise to look at the actual statistics. For instance, a five year study of San Francisco officer involved shootings culminating in 2010 found that about one in ten thousand arrests resulted in a police-related shooting. One in ten thousand. It's important to emphasize that we're talking actual arrests here, not mere citizen contacts or even detentions that don't lead to arrest. When you arrest someone, when you're trying to take their liberty away, it always brings with it the prospect of violence. And ask any street cop with some time in and he'll tell you about a host of times he could have justifiably used deadly force but elected not to. That's why cops bristle when they see some protestor screaming that cops are indiscriminately murdering people as he holds up a sign that says It Could be My Son Next. Sir, if your son comes at the police officer with a knife or a gun, then yes, God help him, he could be next. Otherwise, your boy has about as much chance of being murdered by the police as he has of dying while canoeing. The police are to uphold the sanctity of life whenever possible and must justify every bullet we fire. But when the public grossly overstates the problem, we all lose.

Adam Plantinga, Police Craft: What Cops Know About Crime, Community and Violence, 2018. 

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