Study Shows Police Killings in U.S. Have Been Widely Undercounted

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Talks around details on language in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Congress ended in late September after a dispute between Republican Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) over what Scott defined as “defunding police.” (Photo: Philadelphia, PA USA – November 24, 2014; A young protester and his mother are seen holding signs at Dillworth Park at Philadelphia City Hall. [photo by Bas Slabbers] / iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire

Police killings in the United States have been massively undercounted according to a study by the University of Washington. The study was published on September 27 in the Lancet, peer-reviewed medical journal.

Researchers compared data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) federal database alongside data from three groups tracking deaths in police custody and news reports. The study demonstrated the disproportionate impact of police killings on Black people in America.

Last summer, after the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, there were protests in the streets around the U.S. The moment brought forward even more analysis over police violence. Over the last five years several high-profile killings of African Americans in the U.S. have been caught on camera and forced legislatures to re-evaluate policing policies.

The study in part read that, “across all races and states in the USA, we estimate 30,800 deaths from police violence between 1980 and 2018; this represents 17,100 more deaths than reported by the NVSS. Over this time period, the age-standardized mortality rate due to police violence was highest in non-Hispanic Black people, followed by Hispanic people of any race. This variation is further affected by the decedent’s sex and shows large discrepancies between states.”

Talks around details on language in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Congress ended in late September after a dispute between Republican Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) over what Scott defined as “defunding police.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told NNPA on September 30 that he has not given up on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and is looking for a way to revive the conversation and move the legislation forward.

“I am not giving up and I’ve gone over it with my staff and asked: What are our options?” Sen. Booker told NNPA.

The study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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