Photo by Brian Addison. Graphics courtesy of Mapping Police Violence
As 2016 comes near an end, so will the data collected by Mapping Police Violence (MPV), a group whose mission is to collect data regarding the deaths of citizens at the hands of police officers across the nation—and it serves as a reminder in the hopes that Long Beach Police Department (LBPD)’s own ranking drops from its 2015 rank of being the 5th most violent police department in the nation.
2015, according to MPV, had a national average of 3.6 persons per one million killed by police officers. Long Beach saw nearly triple that in 2015, having killed at a rate of 10.6 persons per million. It tied with Indianapolis while sitting behind Oakland (12.1), Oklahoma City (12.9), and Bakersfield (13.6), who held the top spot.
Our neighbor to the north, Los Angeles, sat at 29 with a 5.6 rate of killing per million. Riverside was the sole police department of the nation’s 60 largest cities that reported killing no one in 2015.
It also appears that violent crimes levels—of which the LBPD has reported a drop in 2015 but a slight hike thus far in 2016—does not make it any more or less likely for an officer to kill someone.
Long Beach and Los Angeles were not amongst the departments that killed solely black people. Perturbingly, the police departments of St. Louis, Atlanta, Kansas City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Virginia Beach, Boston, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Raleigh, Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Charlotte-Mecklenberg were departments whose officers killed solely black people. Yes, 100% of the killings caused by officers in those departments were toward black folks.
The reason for MPV’s mission has been a slow retraction of information from law enforcement agencies across the country, with MPV claiming that departments have ultimately failed in providing the public with even basic information about the lives police officers have taken. Even more to MPV’s perspective, the much-lauded Death in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA)passed by Congress in 2014, which mandates this data be reported, is still being implemented two years later.
According to Kanya Bennett, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there has been no real compliance on DICRA.
Public outcry is not unwarranted: at least three people are killed by police every day—which is precisely why MPV includes information on 1,167 known police killings in 2014, including 1,067 arrest-related deaths as well as 100 unintentional, off-duty and/or inmate deaths. The group also includes information on 1,123 police killings in 2013, 1,207 in 2015, and over 800 police killings in 2016 thus far. Importantly, MPV data do not include “killings by vigilantes or security guards who are not off-duty police officers.”
While outlets like the Guardian and Washington Post have attempted to create their own databases tabulating officer-involved fatalities, they solely rely on local media and governmental reporting while MPV relies on “the three largest, most comprehensive and impartial crowdsourced databases on police killings in the country: FatalEncounters.org, the U.S. Police Shootings Database and KilledbyPolice.net.”
Ultimately, there is no accurate national comprehensive figures beyond these provided or until DICRA actually becomes implemented, which the ACLU claims will be no time soon. MPV, meanwhile, will release their 2016 report in the coming weeks.
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