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Last weekend, the Washington Post published its annual misrepresentation of police uses of lethal force around the country. “Fatal Force” is the round-up the Post has published for each of the last three years, analyzing data it started collecting after the 2014 Ferguson incident. The Post discovered that the FBI’s data on such incidents was capturing barely half of them, and decided to do the job themselves. The fact that local police are not beholden to Federal masters is lost on the statists at the Post, but the database does an admirable job of informing the national conversation on this local issue.
The 2017 data showed that police use of lethal force continues to be very consistent. For each of the last three years, police have killed between 963 and 996 suspects (a variance of barely three percent), almost all of them unquestionably justified. While yaktivists would like you to believe that most police killings are murders, they are distinctly not. And while the Shaun Kings of the world will immediately try to present the subjects of such sad events (like last weekend’s shooting in North Little Rock, AR) as good students who were the victims of racial profiling, it is almost inevitable that the evidence, such as this video, shows the subject did something like try to shoot two police officers who had just told him not to worry about having “a little weed.”
But, I digress.
Back in 2014, the Post’s theory was that the police were out of control, killing innocent young black men like Michael Brown of Ferguson, shot in the back with his hands up. Well, ok, he wasn’t, but they weren’t going to let facts get in the way of the narrative.
Body-worn cameras, we were told, would show us the truth. And they were right. While BWCs are showing us the truth, it isn’t what the Post tried to tell us. That’s why there hasn’t been a commensurate drop in uses of lethal force while the uses of cameras have rapidly expanded. Quite the opposite, actually.
But, that doesn’t suit the needs of the fictional narrative. So the Post’s reporters have to weave the data into half-truths devoid of context.
How can they show cops are racist? By reporting that one demographic is subject to lethal force much more than their representation in the population. The Post’s go-to this year is that people killed by police officers again were 22 percent Black males, even though Black males are just 6 percent of the population.
Now, this is simply a silly statement. It would be just as silly, but more obviously so, to note that police officers killed women over the age of 50 at a rate much lower than their share of the population. It is no truer to argue that cops discriminate in favor of older women than that they discriminate against black men.
If you follow the Post’s logic completely down the rabbit hole, cops should go out and find some older white women to kill whenever they kill a Black male. Or, maybe, they should not shoot someone who is shooting at them, depending on his race.
Obviously, this is nonsense. But, what are you gonna do when you have a narrative to spin?
Of course, to determine if cops are shooting people for good reason on a macro scale, we need some measure of the context of the situation. And, oddly enough that data is published every year, with almost no mention by the Post.
Back in October, the FBI released its annual extremely detailed report on Law Enforcement Officers Killed And Assaulted (LEOKA). What the data showed was that in 2016, Black males accounted for about 25 percent of all cop killers. Which is to say, cops kill Black men at almost exactly the same rate Black men kill cops.
And, isn’t that the way it ought to be? Don’t we want cops to use force in proportion to the context of the threat they face?
And, actually, the truth, taken in context, is even more in the favor of law enforcement. You see, 2016 was an outlier. On average, over the last 10 years, black men have been 40 percent of the cop killers, and as much as 50 percent. But the 25- to 30-percent rate has been consistent on the other side of the gun.
These are facts you simply will not learn by reading America’s most influential newspaper.
Now, this is not, by any means, meant to justify any individual use of force. Any cop who shoots another human being because “40 percent of cop killers are Black” is a racist. That’s the definition of judging a person by the color of their skin.
But, for a conversation about national trends and macro statistics, context is as vital as are circumstances and facts in the case of an individual incident. But, for some reason, the Post would prefer you not know the facts and context of the narrative they spin for you.
Democracy dies in darkness. Indeed.