Data suggest police reform works to reduce fatal encounters in cities

by Peter Heck · Jun 3rd, 2020 3:02 pm

As the murder of George Floyd has brought the issue of police violence sharply back into the country's focus, data from privately-run databases have emerged showing police reform may be helping in urban areas.

While the data shows that the nationwide number of people killed by police has held steady, they also reveal there has been a significant change in where those killings are occurring.

A data analysis by FiveThirtyEight showed that both fatal and nonfatal police shootings in 23 of America's largest cities had dropped 37% from 2013 to 2019. The Ferguson protests began in 2013.

However, the number of people who were killed by police shootings in rural and suburban areas increased, offsetting the decrease in urban areas.

Parallel with the drop in police shootings is a significant decrease in arrest rates. In one piece of data cities that reduced police shootings also saw 35% fewer arrested in 2018 than 2013. Lowering the arrest rate is attributed to legislative reform like drastically reducing the number of offenses like disorderly conduct, loitering, and possession of marijuana.

? Some believe this data demonstrates that solutions to police violence implemented in cities — such as changes to training and use-of-force policies maintained by departments — are effective in reducing the number of these incidents.


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