Photo by Brian Addison.
2016 has become an incredibly good year for the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) in terms of the violence its officers engage, as new data culled from Mapping the Violence (MPV) shows a significant drop in the department’s ranking amongst other large departments.
2015 sadly put LBPD on the map in terms of violence, with MPV naming it the 5th most violent police department in the nation, having killed at a rate of 10.6 persons per million. That number has dropped to 6.49 persons per million, effectively removing the department from not just the top 5 but the top 20.
Arlington (TX), Cleveland, New York, Oakland, Riverside, Wichita, and Virginia Beach were the police departments to have no police killings in 2016. This marks Riverside’s second year in a row without an officer killing someone—the only department to do so and the only department last year whose officers killed no one—while Oakland dramatically decreased its violence to zero killings after sitting at a lofty No. 3 last year.
Our neighbor to the north, Los Angeles, also dropped from 4.75 killings per million, down from sat at a 5.6 rate last year.
Long Beach and Los Angeles were not amongst the departments that killed solely black people. Perturbingly, the police departments of Atlanta (1), Baltimore (6), Boston (3), Chicago (14), Columbus (6), Indianapolis (3), Kansas City (2), Milwaukee (3), Raleigh (2), St. Louis (5), and Washington D.C. (4) were departments whose officers killed solely black people. Yes, 100% of the killings caused by officers in those departments were toward black folks; the numbers in parentheses indicate the number of black people their department’s officers killed.
As mentioned in our previous article, the continued 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 over 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.
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