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News & Politics

The Freedom Report is a podcast that reports on news from a perspective of economic freedom and personal liberty.

June 8, 2015

Are American Cop’s Kill Rates Out Of Control? [PODCAST]

The Freedom Report podcast today interviews special guest Professor Edward Stringham, economics professor at Trinity College in Connecticut. Stringham's story from the NY Daily News looks at the numbers of citizens killed in police encounters and compares the data with countries around the world. 

From the NY Daily News: 

In the United States, the overall homicide rate is 5 per 100,000. That means out of any given 100,000 Americans, five will be victims and (ignoring for the moment, perpetrators of multiple homicide) five people will commit homicide.

But what is the rate at which police kill citizens? Although official statistics have historically been scant, we now know that police killed 1,100 Americans in 2014and 476 Americans in the first five months of 2015. Given that America has roughly 765,000 sworn police officers, that means the police-against-citizen kill rate is more than 145 per 100,000.

Let us put that into perspective. In most countries in Europe the national homicide rate is 1 per 100,000, so that means American police kill at 145 times the rate of the average European citizen. The two most violent countries in the world are Venezuela and Honduras with national homicide rates of 54 and 90 per 100,000. The U.S. government issues travel warnings stating: “The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high” and “violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive.” If you are not comfortable vacationing in those countries, it is little wonder why so many Americans are uncomfortable with police who kill at more than 1.5 and 2.5 times the homicide rates of the two most violent countries.

So what conclusions should one draw from this and other data points? Professor Stringham believes that privatizing many of the duties of police forces might result in a reduction of overall violence. He points to cases such as North Carolina, where deputies are allowed to operate under a system that doesn't grant them the same immunity as public officials, thereby placing greater restrictions and responsibility on the individual officers. Is a free market in security the way to go? Tune in to our show, and subscribe to us on iTunes. 

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