Police violence is gun violence, and we cannot move forward in the work to end gun violence without acknowledging this.
Like all forms of gun violence, police shootings do not impact all communities equally. Black Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate that white Americans are killed by police.(1) Hispanic individuals are also shot and killed by the police at a disproportionate rate, at nearly twice the rate of white Americans.(1) Individuals living with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by police than other civilians, and it is estimated that individuals with mental illness make up between one quarter to one half of all police shootings.(2) In a ten day span in November 2020, Massachusetts police shot four people, killing two. All four men who were shot by police had a history of mental illness.(3)
Police kill on average 1,000 people each year in the US.(4)
Black men are twice as likely to be killed by police as white men.(1)
Police kill civilians in the US at a rate much higher than any other wealthy country.(5)
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As with many other types of gun violence, a lack of data is a barrier to understanding and ending police shootings. A 2014 investigation by the Washington Post found that the FBI undercounted police shootings by more than half, as police departments were not required to provide the FBI with data on police shootings. This process is still voluntary, and many departments decline to submit this data.(4)
There are numerous programs that have successfully implemented a non-police response to mental health calls, like the CAHOOTS model in Oregon. The Coalition has chosen S.1552/H.2519 - An Act to Create Alternatives for Community Emergency Services (ACES), sponsored by Sen. Chang-Diaz and Rep. Sabadosa as one of our legislative priorities for this session. This bill would create a pilot program for a non-law enforcement response to mental health crises, to be implemented in a community that has been over-policed. Learn more about our legislative advocacy.
Fatal Force: Police shootings database. (2020, January 22). Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/
Fuller, D. A., Biasotti, M., Snook, J., & Lamb, M.D., H. (2015, December). Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/overlooked-in-the-undercounted.pdf
Crimaldi, L. (2020, November 28). A rash of police shootings in Massachusetts this month leaves two dead, two wounded - The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/11/27/metro/rash-police-shootings-massachusetts-this-month-leaves-two-dead-two-wounded/
John Sullivan, L. W. (2019, February 12). Four years in a row, police nationwide fatally shoot nearly 1,000 people. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/four-years-in-a-row-police-nationwide-fatally-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2019/02/07/0cb3b098-020f-11e9-9122-82e98f91ee6f_story.html
Initiative, P. P. (2020, June 5). Not just "a few bad apples": U.S. police kill civilians at much higher rates than other countries. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2020/06/05/policekillings/