Monday, October 24, 2011

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Fox News wants us to be upset because the number of deaths of law enforcement officers increased by 17% this year, from 48 to 56. Meh.

Understand, I garner no joy from the death of a police officer. Many have families. Many are good people trying to do the right thing. Not all cops are flaming assholes, though I would submit that the majority -- particularly campus and traffic cops -- are.

But I can't get too worked up over 56 police deaths when you compare it side-by-side with the statistics of those killed by police officers.

Between 2003 and 2009 (the most recent statistics on the interwebs), 2,844 people were killed by police officers. Of that number, 2,684 were shot dead by the police. That's 406 deaths per year, 383 of those shot dead by the police.
You don't have to be a math whiz to figure out that 406 > 56.

"Come on, Vulture! You can't equate criminals being shot in the commission of a crime with law enforcement officers!" You're quite right. I wouldn't for a moment claim that there weren't some -- hell, maybe 90% or more -- of that number who desperately needed killing and whose shootings were 100% legit.

But what if 10% of those killed by police were innocents, people in the wrong place at the wrong time. People mistaken for someone else. People like the guy shot because a cop mistook his lighter for a handgun. People killed during the execution of a no-knock warrant who weren't involved in any crime.

Hey, Fox News. If you want me to care more about police deaths, how about you hold the police accountable when they bash in grandma's door and gun down grandma and her sleeping grandkids during a no-knock raid where some puke informant gave them the wrong address. In fact, how about you simply get behind the cause of abolishing blatantly unconstitutional no-knock warrants.

When the police start to behave like peace officers instead of law enforcers (trust me, there's a big difference), then I'll be more sympathetic when one of their number is killed. In the meantime.....meh.