Abused by the State: Police Brutality Statistics

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A deeper look into systemic abuses of power, their causes, and the ways people can keep themselves and others safe

police brutality statisticsPolice brutality statistics and those related to generalized misconduct are not typically things which occupy a place of importance in the mind of the American public. The truth is that officer misconduct is a very real problem facing Americans.

It is apparent that the vast majority of police abuses occur with the use of physical force. Most of these cases do not result in fatalities primarily because of this fact. A huge proportion of fatalities, however, are caused by the improper use of firearms by police.

Race is also an essential element when discussing some of the negative attributes of the police force. History has shown that certain racial groups (especially Black and Latino) have had a long, not-so-amicable relationship with the police largely due to socio-economic and racist discrimination in one way another.

Another hugely-overlooked part of America’s police problem is sexual assault. There are grievous offenses committed year after year and although, in comparison to the overall statistics regarding sexual assault, they are small, it is clear that these crimes are allowed to occur through the authority vested in these individuals by the state.

This is also not to ignore the abuse, at the hands of American police, of political protesters such as those involved with the Occupy Wall Street Movement (it has basically become a sport over the decades for American police). If something is to be done about these crimes against common decency the facts must speak for themselves:

I. General Statistical Distributions

States with the highest reported misconduct per 100,000 officers:

1. Louisiana: 1777.38

2. Montana: 1741.57

3. Mississippi: 1735.28

4. West Virginia: 1726.12

5. Oklahoma: 1623.05

States with the lowest reported misconduct per 100,000 officers:

1. Kansas: 295.81

2. Maine 355.4

3. Virginia: 447.52

4. Arkansas: 467.74

5. Iowa: 568.07

police brutality statistics

Statistical distribution of excessive force (police brutality) reports:

1. Cases involving physical use of force which include fist strikes, throws, choke holds, baton strikes, and other physical attacks: 56.9%

2. Cases involving firearms: 14.7%

3. Cases involving a combination of force types (including physical force, firearms, and/or tasers): 13.21%

3. Cases involving tasers: 10.6%

4. Cases involving chemical weapons (i.e. pepper spray): 2.4%

5. Cases involving police dogs: 1.7%

6. Cases involving police vehicles: 0.4%

Police Brutality Statistics

Statistical distribution of fatalities resulting from use of excessive force (police brutality):

1. Firearm fatalities: 71%

2. Physical force fatalities: 15%

3. Taser fatalities: 9%

4. Other causes: 5%

II. Sexual Assault

Sexual misconduct is the second most frequent type of reported abuse of police power, it is also statistically twice as likely that a law enforcement officer will commit (or be accused of commiting) a sexual assault when compared to an average citizen. Of officers who were reported for serious sexual misconduct 51% of cases reported also involved minors.

Many will argue that it’s really just a few bad apples. This is in many ways true, however if one were to visualize the United States as a collection of buckets of apples, some buckets would be more rotten than others (as the relative misconduct statistics clearly demonstrate).

One could also make the argument that the bizarre disparity in very specific statistics, sexual assault for example, between law enforcement and the general public indicates that there may, indeed, be two very different types of “rotten” at work here. Certain individuals indicate that there is a certain sickness that seems to infect the police (similar to that which afflicts the Catholic priesthood); individuals like:

1. 41 year old deputy Dale L. Tompkins, who just last year was alleged  to have exchanged sexual favors for legal ones on multiple occasions (including having “consensual” sex on the hood of his police car with a woman in custody after she “agreed” to in exchange for her freedom).

2. Officer Juan Carlos Rodriguez, who in 2011 was charged with fondling two teenage girls at a traffic stop with a record of past behavior to suggest that he had engaged in the molestation of many others.

3. Former Missouri Police Captain and Boy Scout Troop leader Kenneth D. Tomlinson who in 2011 plead guilty to the sexual abuse of 22 minors, many 11 to 13 years of age.

4. Houston police officer Abraham Joseph who was accused of subduing a cantina waitress and then raping her on the trunk of his police car (not to mention being implicated in five other sexual assaults).

5. New Orleans police officer Henry Hollins who allegedly kept a “sex kit” (including used condoms) in his police car and was charged with kidnapping a woman in 2009, taking her to a warehouse and raping her.

III. Racism

A February 2009 study of West Virginia traffic stops indicates that racial profiling is alive and well in police departments. Its results indicate that Blacks were 1.64 times more likely to get stopped simply because of their race. The same study indicates that Hispanics were 1.48 times more likely to be stopped. An Arizona study from the years 2006-2007 indicates much the same, specifically that Blacks and Hispanics were stopped much more frequently on all highways under scrutiny.

Court decisions have indicated that officers are more likely to perceive threats where there are not necessarily any from Black and Hispanic citizens simply because of past experience. The result of a discovery request in Floyd v. City of New York-2008 determined that “a significant number of stops resulted in the use of physical force by the NYPD. Of those stops, a disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos had physical force used against them.

Between 2005 and mid-2008, 17 percent of Whites, compared to 24 percent of Blacks and Latinos, had physical force used against them during NYPD-initiated encounters,” and that, “of the cumulative number of stops made during the three and one-half year period, only 2.6 percent resulted in the discovery of a weapon or contraband.

Although rates of contraband yield were minute across all racial groups, stops made of Whites proved to be slightly more likely to yield contraband.” This has been termed the “driving while Black” phenomenon. Often officers disproportionately use violence when in direct confrontation with “minorities” as an evolved reflex from on the job trauma.

A study was conducted for the city of Los Angeles during the period from July 2003 to June 2004, “after controlling for violent and property crime rates in specific LAPD reporting districts, as well as a range of other variables,” the researchers found that, “It is implausible that higher frisk and search rates are justified by higher minority criminality, when these frisks and searches are substantially less likely to uncover weapons, drugs or other types of contraband.

We also find that the black arrest disparity was 9 percentage points lower when the stopping officer was black than when the stopping officer was not black. Similarly, the Hispanic arrest disparity was 7 percentage points lower when the stopping officer was Hispanic than when the stopping officer was a non-Hispanic white. Taken as a whole, these results justify further investigation and corrective action.”

 IV. Reporting, Prosecution, and Incarceration Rates

police brutality statistics

Worst law enforcement prosecution rates by state:

1. Washington D.C.: 0.5%

2. Washington: 16%

3. Vermont: 18%

4. West Virginia: 20%

5. Oregon: 20%

Worst law enforcement conviction rates by state:

1. Alaska: 14%

2. Washington: 17%

3. Connecticut: 18%

4. Colorado: 19%

5. Georgia: 19%

The system seeks to protect itself. From the perspective of the bureaucracy as a whole, having a police officer on trial hurts the credibility of the entire organization and, thus, why many of these trials go on for years while lawyers argue minute details of grammar. The system itself does not want corrupt or “bad” cops, however many of the “bad apples” have infected regional systems of policing. The New Orleans police department is a prime example of this.

New Orleans is high on the scale for police misconduct, however the department itself has exhibited a strong pattern of corrupt behavior in the past. When an officer is convicted all officers are shown in the same light, whether or not they are guilty of any form of corruption. Where the data does not lie is in the details, where corruption is allowed, it happens; in this sense it is a systemic issue.

V. Solutions

So, what can ordinary individuals (as well as those in the police force) do to keep themselves safe from the apparent problems of abuse within the system? The answer is simple: report everything. Film all police officers whenever they engage you or anyone around you (the internet is a wonderful tool for resistance). Take down their badge number if you perceive any misconduct and report them.

Yes, it is true that a very small percentage of police complaints actually get processed, even fewer go to trial, and still fewer are either convicted or put in prison (if it applies to the misconduct). This does not mean, however, that this type of resistance is futile. A constant, annoying unending series of official complaints, believe it or not, can add up if made in great enough volume. Much police brutality and misconduct goes unreported, this will not stand in a civilized society.

Links:

Racial Profiling Statistics

Cato Institute Police Misconduct Statistics

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About Author

Sean Everett has a BA in history from the University of Kansas. Interests include Anarchism, voluntaryism, politics, economics, intellectual history, literature, chess, science, and poetry.

36 Comments

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  7. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the brain initiative are the worst scams ever perpetrated on the American people. Former U. S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin Warns: Biochips Hazardous to Your Health: Warning, biochips may cause behavioral changes and high suicide rates. State Attorney Generals are to revoke the licenses of doctors and dentists that implant chips in patients. Chip used illegally for GPS, tracking, organized crime, communication and torture. Virginia state police have been implanting citizens without their knowledge and consent for years and they are dying! Check out William and Mary’s site to see the torture enabled by the biochip and the Active Denial System. See Terrorism and Mental Health
    by Amin Gadit or A Note on Uberveillance by MG & Katina Michael or Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence by Springer or Mind Control, Microchip Implants and Cybernetics. Check out the audio spotlight by Holosonics.

    “Former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) director and now Google Executive, Regina E. Dugan, has unveiled a super small, ingestible microchip that we can all be expected to swallow by 2017. “A means of authentication,” she calls it, also called an electronic tattoo, which takes NSA spying to whole new levels. She talks of the ‘mechanical mismatch problem between machines and humans,’ and specifically targets 10 – 20 year olds in her rant about the wonderful qualities of this new technology that can stretch in the human body and still be functional. Hailed as a ‘critical shift for research and medicine,’ these biochips would not only allow full access to insurance companies and government agencies to our pharmaceutical med-taking compliancy (or lack thereof), but also a host of other aspects of our lives
    which are truly none of their business, and certainly an extension of the removal of our freedoms and rights.” Google News

    The ARRA authorizes payments to the states in an effort to encourage Medicaid
    Providers to adopt and use “certified EHR technology” aka biochips. ARRA will match Medicaid $5 for every $1 a state provides. Hospitals are paid $2 million to create “crisis stabilization wards” (Gitmo’s) where state police torture people – even unto death. They stopped my heart 90 times in 6 hours. Virginia Beach EMT’s were called
    to the scene. This is Medicaid Expansion and Medicaid and Healthcare fraud.

    Mary E. Schloendorff, v. The Society of New York Hospital 105 N. E. 92, 93 (N. Y. 1914) Justice Cardozo states, “every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient’s consent, commits an assault, for which he is liable in damages. (Pratt v Davis, 224 Ill. 300; Mohr v Williams, 95 Minn. 261.)

    This case precedent requires police to falsely arrest you or kidnap you and call you a mental health patient in order to force the implant on you. You can also be forced to have a biochip if you have an infectious disease – like Eboli or Aids. Coalition of Justice vs the City of Hampton, VA settled a case out of court for $500,000 and removal of the biochip. Torture is punishable by $1,000 per day up to $2 million; Medical battery is worth $2.05 million. The Torture Act creates a cause of action.

    They told my family it was the brain initiative but the oversight board said it has nothing to do with the brain initiative. This requires informed, knowledgeable consent. Mark Warner told me it was research with the Active Denial System by the College of
    William and Mary, the USAF, and state and local law enforcement. It is called IBEX and it is excruciating. If you are an organ donor, they volunteer you.

    • this is an eye opener. it is really frightening. thanks for taking the time to explain this. I was total unaware. implanting microchips with out the person knowledge or constent

  8. Sean I just don’t know watt 2 say bout This 1. Thanx 4 ppl like u who have the courage 2 bring this really Big-X problem out in2 the Light! Ku-doos 2u & all the other Real-Voices out there! PT-!–O2A. . .

  9. I am a well thought-of American white citizen and senior citizen, recovering hopefully from a form of blindness called double vision or vertigo. I have been here in Phoenix for less than two weeks as a person travelling and considering employment locally, as well as a safe community to relocated from the East Coast of the United States as there is rampant crime in the state in which I lived, Virginia and worked for over twenty years.

    Two women police officers from Arizona with the sun label on their uniforms forced me to accept a ride in their car with cage bars and a metal mesh back in the back seat of the car when I went this morning to the local airport to use the bathroom, drink some water at Starbucks and simply plan my day away from the homeless, teh heat and the crowds.

    Of course, they ruined my day and I believe that this area is subject to human slavery crimes as I was denied my human, American constitutional and international rights by them in their public ridicule. They refused to use my last name and insisted on calling me, in a snide and deriding tone, “Patricia”. They photographed my identification card for the Human Services Campus where the Cass women’s shelter is located after almost knocking it out of my hand onto teh street, and the officer picked it up – wouldn’t let me.

    They did much more than that and told me over five times that I cannot enter the Airport in Phoenix (which is international with a Sky Train that I remember working on designs for such a system as a young child with my gifts in Art and design – that were actually stolen from me. I never mentioned it to you.

    They told me I can not return to the Airport or I will be arrested unless I already ahve a ticket and am leaving. A woman at the metro train station outdoors waiting near me was friendly and told me that is not true, that she uses the Airport when she wants.

    I object to this horrible treatment by the local police, and want to state this in writing as I am only a personal travelling through the area, and now I do not plan to stay here for long. I have scheduled a job interview, although I don’t feel safe here due to gang behavior on the street when I walk, as well as the police threatening my freedom today.

    Perhaps your police have such a low opinion of who I am, as well as my Constitutional rights as an American citizen of European heritage (and Caucasian and Anglo race), as my father described is the best for the American reference – because my identity is stolen. Perhaps they have me confused with another person, and Identity Theft has occurred which many people have told me may be the problem in the United States.

    Patricia Louise McGurk

    • Patricia Louise McGurk on

      I am updating my comments here. The abuse has changed face to hate crimes, especially I MacDonalds where an “employee” from the drive-through order area in Phoenix, AZ 7th venue (and I tnk, Grand Street) “ordered” me on two recentt occasions to leave the “store” (they call MacDonalds as well as Strbucks a “store”, and Wells Fargo Bank, as well, a store. He ordered me a paying customer sitting down, drinking my cup of coffee as senior citizen, saying I “have a stench or there is a stench (foul odor) Ms Patricia Louise McGurk

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  11. This hurts my soul. To the core. When is this going to stop??? We are supposed to live in a country where you are supposed to be free. The law is supposed to be here to serve and protect. Not harass and kill. I lost my husband like this and it tears me apart to know maybe one day it could be my son. It’s like they’re just thugs with badges above the law able to do what they want when they want because they are the law. I believe excessive force should not be tolerated either way it goes just like citizens respect them they should respect us to atleast enough to not treat us like animals they can’t wait to put down.

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  14. casandra nicolina on

    Hello fellow Kansan! This was comprehensive and well written. Nicely done. Thanks for doing that research. It’s truly fascinating and yet disturbing how corruption and abuse of power are undying in this country. White males have dominated the country since arriving in 1620. First the capturing, enslaving and dehumanization of Africans. Then the brutal slaughtering and exile of Native Americans and sub-human treatment of women. Many like to think that the great chain of being no longer exists and that if there can be an African American president, then finally all humans born on this soil have an equal opportunity to succeed. I challenge anyone who holds that belief to review these statistics. I realize that the severity of prejudice and corruption is substantially less today than hundreds of years before, I wish to point out that there still exists a flagrant disparity in equality. Minorities, and by that I mean anyone who is not a white man, still face more resistance from society than those who are white men. These brutality statistics are proof of that. A black man or woman questioned by police is more likely to be shot and killed, and a woman of any race is more likely to be raped. I don’t believe this article commented on it, but an estimated fifty percent of the victims of police misconduct have a reported mental illness. The bottom line is, those members of society designated to assuage fear and promote security for all have become paragons of irony. Who do we call for help when the police are the offenders?

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    • the masses are awakening! hopefully we can make it to the end of the year and there will be change. I pray that we all will see what is happening to america

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  19. Wow, if the police are this busy brutalizing citizens it makes you wonder how they have any time to hang around the donut shop? The percentage of bad cops is no higher than the percentage of useless…..what is it you do again Sean?

  20. The US is the most violent country in the ‘so-call-free-world’. United States police get away with murder as they do in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US have some money but some very, very, very BAD people; especially in the police department; HORRIFIC! Would NOT wish to live in that country; NOT at all!

    • I was born here. I thought it was a good place. It’s not. It’s so corrupt. Because I’m white and educated I was sheltered from so many truths for so long. But now I know. I might try to leave and move to Europe in a few years but it’s expensive and so hard to leave family. My family is aware of it too…they hate the lies we are all told.

      • Please do leave. We don’t have enough room here in America for those who take it for granite and blame others for being white/rich/male, etc. So please stop trying to leave and just leave…. Tired of people like yourself blaming others for being white and educated. I’m half African American myself, educated and grew up in the suburbs. Am I being told a lie as well? Enjoy Europe.

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