Data shows that American police shoot, arrest, and imprison more people than other developed nations. Since 2015, police have shot and killed 5,400 people. From the beginning of 2020 through the first week of June, police shot and killed 463 people, which is 49 more than the same period last year. In May alone, police murdered 110 people, the most in any one month since The Washington Post began tracking police killings in 2015.
These disturbing statistics are at least partly due to different nations having different law enforcement practices. For instance, police in New Zealand and the UK, with the exception of Northern Ireland, do not routinely carry firearms.
According to CNN, a review by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows that a total of 1,348 potential arrest-related deaths in the ten months from June 2015 through March 2016, which is an average of 135 deaths per month, or just over 4 per day. The UK shows a very different pattern, with only 13 people dying in the UK during the closest time period, according to the country’s police watchdog. Australia also showed different results, with 21 deaths occurring in police custody or custody-related operations in 2015-2016. Canada’s data is the closest to the US, with 461 fatal police encounters between 2000 and 2017.
Aside from deaths, a total of 10,310,960 arrests were made in the US in 2018, which equals one arrest made per every 32 American citizens, according to CNN.
The FBI reported that 407 people were shot and killed by police in 2018 were justifiable, a decline from previous years. However, the justified homicides do not capture every police killing, and the FBI’s numbers are derided by many human rights groups and news organizations which have collected far higher figures. The Washington Post counted 1,004 people fatally shot by police in 2019, for instance, while the group Mapping Police Violence tallied 1,099.
Even more disheartening is that black Americans are more likely to experience force by officers. According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Health, black men are almost three times more likely than white men to be killed by law enforcement, and despite only making up an eighth of the country’s total population, black Americans make up a third of the US prison population.
Despite these statistics, it is impossible to know for certain how many people die at the hands of law enforcement in the United States, considering that there is not a single, national database that contains this information.