These days it has been accepted by the public in large that police brutality is a widespread problem. The real problem is that no one ever stops to examine if this is actually true or not before it’s accepted as fact. In this article I’ll demonstrate that true police brutality is an extremely rare event.
In 2008, the roughly 600,000 sworn police officers in America had contact with around 53,000,000 citizens. Out of those 53 million people, about 26,000 of them filed complaints of excessive force. And out of those 26,000 complaints, only 2,060 (8%) of them were found to have any merit or evidence to back them up. So out of 53 million people, 0.0039% of them had a legitimate complaint of police brutality. Hardly a widespread problem. (Source is Bureau of Justice statistics. Source link here)
What about people killed by the police you ask? I’m glad you asked. I’ll use 2012 as an example here but you can pick any year in the past 15 or so and get similar results. In 2012 the police arrested 12,196,959 people. Out of those 12 million arrests, 426 people were killed by police during arrest. Now bear in mind those 426 incidents were deemed justifiable homicide (the police were defending their own lives or the lives of others). So out of 12 million arrests, 426 people died. That’s 0.0035%. I tried to make a pie chart of this but the number of people killed was so small it wouldn’t even register on the chart. The most common retort I’ll hear about this is that not all law enforcement agencies report their shootings to the FBI therefore the number is much higher than that. Fine. Instead of using the FBI’s data, let’s use the data from the anti-police website www.killedbypolice.net. The founders of this website have gone out of their way to search for every news article in the country where there’s a fatal police encounter and they pin EVERY death on the police so long as an officer was there. So for example if they have a heart attack in police custody, that’s counted. If they die from being tased while amped up on cocaine or PCP that’s counted. If they die in a traffic accident involving a cop that’s counted, etc. They really go out of their way to pin everything on the cops; intentional, accidental, justifiable, it doesn’t matter. So even using their wild-eyed statistics, they’ve found around 1,200 people are killed by police annually. So out of 12,000,000 arrests, they blame the cops for 1,200 deaths. That’s still only 0.0098%. I mean, even using the most anti-police statistics available, if you have to move to the 3rd decimal place to the right before you register a number other than zero, can you really honestly still insist that police brutality is some kind of major epidemic?
And if you go to www.killedbypolice.net you’ll see that the overwhelming majority of people killed by police in these stories were either shooting at police or attacking them with a weapon.
To my knowledge no one has tallied the statistics for people intentionally killed by police where it clearly WASN’T justified, probably because the number would be so minuscule that you’d have to move a dozen or more decimal places to the right before you reached a number other than zero. I mean, off the top of my head I can only think of two stories that MIGHT qualify in the last 5 years, and that would be Walter Scott and Laquan McDonald, and I think the case of McDonald is still questionable at best.
This is typically where people will go anecdotal. Where else CAN you go when the cold, hard statistics are debunking your narrative? They’ll say “I’ve got friends who were mistreated by the police.” And maybe they do, but I’ve found that there’s usually more to the story than what they’re telling their friends. The facts don’t lie here, police brutality is an extremely rare event.
A few people (not many) will then capitulate in light of these facts and say “Ok fine, but isn’t even one person wrongfully killed by the police too many?” Yes, but when you live in a world as sinful as ours, do you really expect perfection? And at this point you’ve changed the subject, because the question was “Is police brutality a big problem?” and the answer is no, it isn’t. I’ve just demonstrated it.
If you’re a Christian, Romans 13 also needs to be considered.
Romans 13: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
In light of these facts I really pray that you’ll stop spreading the myth that police brutality is a big problem, especially if you’re a Christian. If you’ve been living with anger and resentment towards the police and are afraid that they’re going to hurt you for no good reason I hope that you’ll be objective in light of these facts and realize that you’ve been driven to that anger and fear by deceptive and sinister sources who have an agenda.
God calls us to the truth. Now you know the truth about police brutality.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!” John 8:32.