As race relations in America continue to escalate and constantly create news for the 24 hours news cycle, it seems that there is something worth considering when trying to take a position on race and police brutality. It seems that two things are clear, first is that the police continue to commit acts of brutality, and the second is that people continue to assign blame to the majority of the American police force even though those actions are being carried out by individuals.
So let’s establish something here, the argument is clear that most people (as a generalization) are claiming that the police force is suffering from systemic racism and that racism is driving excessive use of force on minority populations. Now it is critical for this line of argument to be understood that we establish what systemic really means. Systemic refers to the system as a whole, it directly asserts that the problem being referenced is one that applies to all parts of the organization.
Look, being a cop is hard and people have clearly placed opinion and emotion instead of the logic-based reason that most people need to objectively look at complex situations. It is easy to say that the police are clearly militarized and in many of these incidents the shooting turn out to be excessive use of force. The question is why are they persistent and are the incidents proof of a larger bias that police forces across America have?
In 2018 there were 992 police shootings that resulted in fatalities. 451 of those deaths are confirmed to be caucasian, and 221 are confirmed to be black, while there are over 140 that are marked as other or unknown. Given those numbers and the sheer amount of interactions police officers have with citizens on a daily basis the number might seem high but has been declining for years (not that any loss of life is accepted as a good thing). The overwhelming majority of these incidents are recorded as and considered to be “good shoots” or situations that the law describes and determines as acceptable use of force. Now how many aren’t qualified as an acceptable use of force is still pending but the percentage is under 5%.
These are crazy low numbers but the media and “movement fodder hunters” (people with an agenda looking for ammo to back their beliefs) as I like to call them, use these incidents to push the narrative of a systemic problem when in reality individuals who are proving to be problem causing are becoming fewer and fewer by the day.