Ideally officers would never need to take anyone's life. But the data on police killings doesn't support reducing or abolishing law enforcement.
The video of George Floyd’s tragic death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has led many to ask whether it represents the tip of an iceberg of police brutality. For centuries, United States law enforcement was interwoven with slavery and segregation, and that memory cannot be easily erased. But the evidence does not support the charge that biased police are systematically killing Black Americans in fatal shootings.
Much of modern policing is driven by crime data and community demands for help. The African American community tends to be policed more heavily, because that is where people are disproportionately hurt by violent street crime. In New York City in 2018, 73% of shooting victims were Black, though Black residents comprise only 24% of the city’s population.
Nationally, African Americans between the ages of 10 and 34 die from homicide at 13 times the rate of white Americans, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Justice Department.
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor at City Journal, and the author of the bestselling War on Cops and The Diversity Delusion. Follow her on Twitter here.
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