If I were to tell you that one category of American is twenty-seven times more likely to be killed by police, would you sense an injustice?
Well, it is true that men were twenty-seven times more likely to be killed by police than women in the years between 1988 and 1997. In fact, according to the NCBI data, of those killed by police from 1979 to 1997 of them 97% were male.
I suppose we could conclude from the statistical data that men are victims being systematically slaughtered by the law enforcement agencies. But, that would likely be the wrong conclusion and I believe most of us can come up with theories as to why men are more likely to be killed by police than women that do not include a nefarious plot or even include mention of anti-male sexism.
Men are typically more testosterone driven and aggressive. Men are also probably more likely to be involved in criminal behavior. Men are killed more often by police because they are more likely to be involved in activities that put them at risk of being killed. I could spend time proving those statements, but I think most people do not need further proof because it is fairly obvious and understood without needing to go into great depth.
There is another ‘endangered’ group of people that includes men, women and minorities. This group is those who respond to our calls for help, they are tasked with bringing law breakers to justice and the people we complain about when their serving their duty involves enforcing laws pertaining to us. This group is those who are police officers.
According to one statistical analysis I found, more than ten per 100,000 police officers are killed in the line of duty each year. In a recent column Michelle Malkin gave this breakdown of the numbers:
“The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) reports that a total of 1,501 law-enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past ten years, an average of one death every 58 hours, or 150 per year.”
But, how many, one may ask in retort, are killed by police per year?
Reliable statistics are hard to find on police homicides. However, from what I have found, from those trying to fill in the gap of information, is that around one thousand people are killed by police per year. In a population of around 316 million people that works out to be around 0.31 people killed per 100,000 people living in the US. So, combined and compared, police are over thirty-two times more likely to be killed by us than we are to be killed by them.
Understandably, police have chosen a career that increase the chance they will encounter violence and the occasional innocent person who is gunned down had less of a choice. However, the vast majority of those killed by police have made choices that have increased their likelihood of a violent encounter and in most likely could’ve avoided the outcome had they employed a bit of restraint themselves.
The real tragedy in recent cases that have been deemed newsworthy where young men have been killed by police is the absence of conversation on more obvious reasons. The mainstream media is quick to point out a possible racial motive, but fail to mention all of the other factors from culture to behavior that have an influence over outcomes. We do a great disservice to both police and young men by claiming that this is a matter of systematic oppression.
It is not a matter of oppression or sexism that men are vastly more likely to be killed by police than women. No, it is a matter of men being more likely to do things that lead them to violent encounters and to fix that we need to encourage men to work out their problems differently. Similarly, disproportions between men of different races may also be explained by other factors rather than by oppression or racism.
I do not believe we should ignore statistics nor should we downplay history either. However, if we are to have a conversation, we should make it an honest and fair conversation. We should not just be discussing police abuses, but we should also be discussing fatherless homes, cultural glorification of violence, the idea that manhood means avenging all insults and a mentality of blaming circumstances rather than overcoming them.
The real injustice is that we apply a different logic or reasoning when it comes to considering the statistics that show men are disproportionately more likely to be killed by police than women. If we would apply the same logic and reasoning we would be holding ‘male lives matter’ signs and creating hashtags like #alivewhilemale or #crimingwhilefemale would be trendy.
And, yes, apparently women do get away with criminal behavior. That is, at least at DWI checkpoints where men are disproportionately selected despite not being more likely to drink and drive. From the article linked:
“A surprising study finds women have the advantage when it comes to DWI checkpoints. They are more than 3 times less likely to get singled out for inspection.”
Encouraging outrage will likely only contribute to a continuing cycle of violence. At very least angry protests or promotion of mistrust and hatred for police is not a solution. We need less dividing people into categories of blue, black or white and more discussion of factors other than race or gender that have an influence.
More understanding, more truth and love all around is what we need.