A Certain Group of People Are Definitely Under Attack in this Country and Should Fear for Their Safety–It’s Just Not Who You Think it is
Can we have a real conversation? With real numbers? Using logic and real facts? The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have thrust ‘police brutality’ into the limelight with protests, violent protests, rioting and looting taking place in some parts of the country.
The other night Bill O’Reilly used numbers to make his point with a guest but his logic was at best, flawed. He stated that in 2012, 326 white people were killed by the police while only 123 black people were killed by the police during the same period. Everyone knows that the white population in this country is much larger than the black population. In fact depending upon which numbers you use, the population of white people in the nation is between 4.74 and 5.88 times that of the black population. O’Reilly’s use of these numbers is disingenuous and I’m surprised that he tried to make that argument without qualifying the numbers first. Come on Bill, really? If one of your guests had tried to pull that stunt you would have called them on it.
Moving on. Using O’Reilly’s numbers in proper perspective, numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and numbers from the Officers Down Memorial Page, I decided to take a look at the police-related probability of losing one’s life in 2012.
Inevitably, people who disagree with my findings will point fingers at the methodology employed and claim some sort of bias on my part so I’m using a variety of readily available real numbers for the black and white populations of the United States which should make everyone happy. On the other hand, admittedly I used the most liberal (largest) number I could find to represent the police population while at the same time, I’m using the most conservative (smallest) number to represent police deaths which should make the police unhappy–but I’m fine with that and I think you’ll see why.
So here we go. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the United States in 2010 was 308,747,716. I am using 2010 population data because it comes directly from the U.S. Census bureau and I believe it to be more reliable than estimates in subsequent years. Obviously the population has grown from 2010 to 2012 and I am going under the assumption that the racial makeup of the country grew at approximately the same rate. Obviously these are close estimates that hopefully reasonable, rational, logical people can live with.
308,747,716 Population of the United States in 2010
13.2% of the population was black
77.7% of the population was white
62.6% of the population was ‘white alone’ not Hispanic or Latino
40,754,435 Black People
239,896,975 White people
193,276,070 ‘White Alone’ people
According to Bill O’Reilly in 2012:
123 black people were killed by police
326 white people were killed by police
Obviously there is no way to accurately figure out how many of the ‘white people’ killed were ‘white’ or ‘white alone’ so I decided to use both population figures with the number of ‘white’ deaths.
According to Wikipedia (the largest number I could find–others sites said there were as few as 460,000 police officers) there are 780,000 police officers in the United States.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page there were 126 police deaths in the line of duty in 2012. I’ve taken the liberty of reducing that number to just 70 deaths that I feel can directly be attributed to being caused by people breaking the law which caused the deaths of police officers.
Not included are heart attacks, automobile, aircraft and training accidents, duty related illnesses, falls, and things of that nature which can’t directly be tied to criminal activity and the intent to do harm. See the chart below:
Line of Duty Deaths in 2012: 126
9/11 related illness: 4
Aircraft accident: 3
Automobile accident: 22
Duty related illness: 3
Gunfire (Accidental): 2
Heart attack: 7
Heat exhaustion: 1
Motorcycle accident: 5
Struck by vehicle: 6
Training accident: 1
Vehicle pursuit: 5
Vehicular assault: 11
When I calculated the number of people killed by police in 2012 and assuming that there are no errors in my spreadsheet, here’s what I came up with:
Using the population figure of 239,896,975 white people, it is 1.22 times (122%) more likely for a black person to be killed by the police than a white person.
Using the population figure of 193,276,070 ‘white alone’ people, it is 0.79 times (79%) more likely for a black person to be killed by the police than a ‘white alone’ person is.
Clearly these numbers are not great. You are more likely to be killed by the police if you are black in America than if you are white or ‘white alone’.
Obviously socio-economic conditions have not been factored in and I’m sure that someone, somewhere is going to come up with all sorts of additional data both in support and in opposition of these numbers and that’s fine too.
Based upon the millions upon millions of interactions between police and civilians that occur each year, and taking into account the fact that in any population regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, occupation or any other identifier, there is always going to be a very small percentage of bad apples, the chances of any given person who is a member of any given group surviving an encounter with the police when they treat the officer in a respectful manner, comply with instructions and do not resist is actually extremely high.
Can all of the protesters and rioters answer this question: Would a race-based, one-to-one ratio of people killed by the police each year be acceptable? If so, how do we get there?
But wait, there’s more.
Now I’m going to be completely unfair to police across the country in that I’m going to use the most skewed, unfavorable numbers to calculate how likely they are to die using the same parameters. What is the likelihood of a police officer being killed in a confrontation with a suspected law breaker?
Based upon the largest, reasonably reliable number I could find for the number of law enforcement officers in the country—780,000 and the smallest number of deaths caused by a suspected law breaker (70), it is 44 times more likely for a police officer to be killed by black, white or ‘white alone’ criminals in the country and 29 times more probable that a police officer will be killed by a criminal than a black person would be killed by the police. I was unable to find any reliable data to show where criminals, when confronted by the police, discriminate when it comes to doing them harm or killing them.
You are more likely to be killed by the general public if you are a police officer than you are of being killed by the police if you are a black, white or ‘white alone’ criminal.
Here’s my second question for all of the protesters and rioters: How is it okay to protest, riot and loot in the name of justice and against those charged with keeping us safe when they are 29-44 times more likely to die at the hands of black, white or ‘white alone’ criminals?
Could police, knowing the fact that they are 29-44 times more likely to die in an encounter with the public than a black person or the public at large are to die in an encounter with the police, possibly be the reason that they take precautions to safeguard their own lives?
The loss of life, any life, is tragic.
Here’s my second question for all of the protesters and rioters: Is one life worth more or less than another?
There is plenty of room for debate however as people protest, riot and loot in the name of justice, where are the people willing to stand up for those who put their lives on the line for the rest of us every day and are 29-44 times more likely to die as a result?
Dookies in the Pool is the blog of CPNN founder and Publisher Richard Gandon. At times he takes a look at the lighter side of life at others he tackles issues of concern. These are his musing and his opinions and he openly invites and encourages others to share different viewpoints.