Risk of Police-Involved Death by Race/Ethnicity and Place, United States, 2012-2018

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Abstract

Objectives

To estimate the risk of mortality from police homicide by race/ethnicity and place in the United States.

Methods

We used novel data on police-involved fatalities and Bayesian models to estimate mortality risk for Black, Latino, and White men for all US counties by Census division and metropolitan area type.

Results

Police kill, on average, 2.8 men per day. Police were responsible for about 8% of all homicides with adult male victims between 2012 and 2018. Black men’s mortality risk is between 1.9 and 2.4 deaths per 100 000 per year, Latino risk is between 0.8 and 1.2, and White risk is between 0.6 and 0.7.

Conclusions

Police homicide risk is higher than suggested by official data. Black and Latino men are at higher risk for death than are White men, and these disparities vary markedly across place.

Public Health Implications

Homicide reduction efforts should consider interventions to reduce the use of lethal force by police. Efforts to address unequal police violence should target places with high mortality risk.

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