Study Finds Deaths by Police Severely Underreported

Study Finds Deaths by Police Severely Underreported

Four decades of data on police violence has found that law enforcement has miscategorized and undercounted more than 55% of police killings. That’s according to the government’s primary database.

The findings, published in The Lancet, discovered that records underreported the deaths of black men in police custody more than any other demographic group. Overall, black people are 3.5 times more likely to die at the hands of police.

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Reason.com’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown reports:

To reach this conclusion, researchers compared statistics from the government’s National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) with open-source databases from the nonprofit groups Fatal Encounters, Mapping Police Violence, and The Counted.

The NVSS data left off 55.5 percent “of all deaths attributable to police violence” between 1980 and 2018, the researchers found. Overall, “the misclassification of police violence in NVSS data is extensive.”

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A holistic look shows there were 30,800 deaths caused by police during these decades. “This represents 17,100 more deaths…than reported by the NVSS,” they say.

To put that in perspective, they note that, in 2019, more U.S. men died from police violence (1140 deaths) than from environmental heat and cold exposure (931 deaths), testicular cancer (486 deaths), or sexually transmitted diseases (37 deaths).

Click here to read the study in its entirety.