Number Of People Killed By Police Is Shockingly High In New Database

Photo: RexUSA
Sadly, police killings have been all over the news this year, from the now infamous story of Baltimore's Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody, to Walter Scott, shot in the back by an officer in Charleston, South Carolina. And while we know that the United States has roughly 100 times more police shootings than other developed countries (horrifying, for sure), we don't necessarily know how many police deaths that amounts to in total. Until now. The United States government might not maintain an official tally of police shootings, but last week, The Guardian started its own count, using a mix of social media, local news reports, and public records to source the data in a project called "The Counted." The public, interactive database catalogues men and women killed by police in the U.S. this year and can be searched by specific names, plus filtered by race and ethnicity, state, gender, age, and cause of death. But what seems most eye-opening about the endeavor is that the database's count of 479 deaths so far this year is roughly twice as high as estimates offered by the FBI, Gizmodo reports. This might be because anyone can send The Guardian a tip on any individual case on file or one not yet reported, making it a bit simpler to ensure a case that has not garnered national media attention still goes on the record.
Of their innovative sourcing methods, The Guardian reporter Jon Swaine tells NPR: "[W]e're making an attempt to cast an eye over the country, and obviously we’re open to the possibility that we, too, are missing some and they’re not being reported. But we thought better to make an effort and try to make a more comprehensive database." There are currently no corresponding data sets of police lives lost on duty that can be used as a comparison point, and not all of the civilian deaths logged in this database were of unarmed individuals. The data itself is most certainly worth a hard look, however, as the transparency of such information can only serve to help improve all of our safety. Police violence is not a simple problem to solve; perhaps a little clearcut reporting on the facts of the situation is a place to start.

More from Politics

R29 Original Series