Police Violence Claimed Over 100,000 Years of Life From Americans in Just 2 Years

How many Americans are killed every year during an interaction with a law enforcement officer? Such a straightforward question should come with a straightforward answer, you might think — but you’d be wrong.

As it stands right now, accurate, official statistics on these numbers simply do not exist; however that has inspired numerous attempts to arrive at a figure. And a new study aims to go even further.

Researchers from UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles and Harvard sought not only to tally the total number of deaths – those caused by gunshot, Taser and physical violence — but also to estimate the number of years cumulatively lost to police-involved deaths.

They found that 1,146 individuals were killed by police in 2015, while 1,092 were killed in 2016. The life expectancy for each individual was estimated, and the age at the time of death was then subtracted from that estimate. By this calculation, in just two years, 112,129 years of life were taken from Americans by police.

When compared to other factors often cited as greatly impacting life expectancy — such as infant mortality rates or infectious diseases like meningitis – police violence has a similar footprint. Take a moment to digest that fact: U.S. law enforcement officers are so prone to initiating use-of-force incidents and escalating them to fatal levels that it’s comparable to the forces of nature that have stunted human life spans for millennia — except this is an entirely man-made phenomenon.

Of course, not all Americans’ life spans are proportionately affected by police violence. Of those 112,129 lost years, more than half of them would have been lived by people of color — despite making up far less than half of the U.S. population. The group most heavily represented, however, were individuals — primarily males — aged 25 to 34.

One of the most crucial initial steps required to finding a solution to any problem is gathering the facts. But when the majority of agencies and departments in the country are not required to track or report police killings, it’s difficult to make much progress.

This is why in 2016 then-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, as part of her police reform initiative, mandated that all law enforcement groups must make quarterly reports to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) regarding police killings. Unfortunately, it appears that this mandate is not being enforced under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

A quick look at the BJS website shows that the initial batch of reports had been collected, tallied and released at the end of 2016. Since then, though, there is nothing.

Take Action!

The current head of the Department of Justice, Jeff Sessions, has not been coy about his utter lack of interest in continuing his predecessor’s efforts at much-needed, widespread law enforcement reform. This shift included taking an ax to the reformations made to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Arrest-Related Deaths Program.

These changes must not be brushed aside. Tell Sessions that he has a responsibility to see that this important data collection mandate be enforced by adding your name to this Care2 petition!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!


Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr


Liliana G
Liliana Garcia16 hours ago

Petition signed. It is tragic to think sweeping a problem under the rug makes it go away.

Debbie B
Debbie B17 hours ago

karen h im not afaird of anything except democrats getting office again and destroying our country like obama did so my family cops r right your the dumb idiot who thinks theres police brutality its 2018 theres no brutality never has and never will your the idiot that gives our boys in blue a bad name stop whie your ahead

Past Member
Past Member 19 hours ago

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Janis K
Janis Kyesterday

Thanks for sharing.

Karen H
Karen Hyesterday

Wow. Debbie B has a pretty warped view of America. Just because your family cops tell you there's no police violence doesn't make it so. You sound as if you live in a world full of fear, and I feel sorry for you. You obviously feel like there are bad guys hiding behind every bush, just waiting to rape and kill you.

Carol C
Carol Cyesterday

Police brutality is a national disease and disgrace. It's is criminal to not do everything possible to to prevent it. Petition signed.

Freya H
Freya Hyesterday

How sad that so many cops have forgotten about "Protect and Serve."

Winn A
Winn A1 days ago


Carole R
Carole R2 days ago

Very sad. The police have a dangerous job and often have to make split second decisions.

Anne Moran
Anne Moran2 days ago

Weird math,, don’t get it...