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US Police Kill Three Men Each Day, Twice as Many People as Official Records Show

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US police kill about three men per day, on average more than 1,000 men per year, far more than reflected in official data counts, according to a new study. Police were also accountable for about 8 percent of all adult male homicide deaths in the US between 2012 and 2018.

The study, published July 19 in the American Journal of Public Health, was carried out by a team of sociologists from Cornell University and the University of Washington. The researchers used unofficial data from Fatal Encounters, a site which keeps track of people killed by police by scouring public records and tracking media coverage. 

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The actual risk of all mortality from police homicide is two times higher than what is reported in official databases by the Bureau of Justice Statistics or the National Vital Statistics System, according to the study. This is because police agencies are not required to provide information about police-related deaths to the federal government. In addition, coroners and police departments do not usually accurately classify deaths caused by police killings, or fail to accurately report such data.

In the study, researchers looked at Fatal Encounters' documentation of 9,795 police-related deaths during 2012 and 2018. Eighty-eight percent of all deaths involved men.

The study revealed that in addition to police homicide rates two times higher than those indicated by official data sources, black and Latino men in particular face a higher risk of police-involved deaths than white men. According to the study, black men's mortality risk is between 1.9 and 2.4 deaths per 100,000 men per year, while Latino risk is between 0.8 and 1.2. White risk, on the other hand, is between 0.6 and 0.7. That means that, on average, black men are three times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than white men, while Latino men face a 40 percent higher chance of being killed by police than white men.

In addition, differences in deaths vary by US state. For instance, black men have the highest highest risk of being killed by police in Oklahoma, while Latino men face the highest risk in New Mexico. The risk of white men also being killed by police in Oklahoma is extremely high, the study authors report. 

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Even though men are 10 times more likely to be killed by police than women, racial differences in risk for women also exist across US states. The study revealed that black, American Indian and Alaska Native women are also at a much higher risk of being killed by police than their white counterparts.

According to the study, "homicide reduction efforts should consider interventions to reduce the the use of lethal force by police." In addition, efforts to reduce violence should target areas with high mortality rates.

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