The U.S. had a fatal police shooting rate of 3.1 per million in 2019, five times higher than Australia’s rate, and 22 times higher than France, according to a study by Rutgers University., according to James Van Bramer of The Crime Report.
The study, published in the Annual Review of Criminology, analyzed the rates of deadly police violence, including shootings and other violence in 18 countries.
The report finds the treatment of minorities, gun homicides and police training duration as primary factors in countries with the highest rates.
Countries with the highest rates – the U.S., Venezuela, Canada, Australia, Brazil, France and Belgium – are distinguished by their mistreatment of minorities or long-standing grievances and turmoil, said Paul Hirschfield, lead author of the study and an associate professor of sociology and director of the Criminal Justice Program at Rutgers.
“The institution of slavery was so massive in Brazil and the United States that the wounds that it inflicted, the benefits it conferred and the racial hierarchy and ideology that sustained it remained long after abolition and have indelibly shaped the contemporary social and institutional order,” Hirschfield said.
But according to the study, the length of police training greatly impacted the number of fatal incidents.
U.S. police averaged the briefest training period over the 18 countries examined, averaging only five months.
Belgian police, with a fatal police violence rate of 0.35 per million, receive eight months of training, while the National Police in France, with an even lower rate (0.29 per million) of fatal police violence, attend school for ten months.
Meanwhile, Canada, with a fatal police violence rate of 0.9 per million, provides around six and a half months of training for its national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and 24 weeks for the Toronto police, its most extensive municipal force.
The study says that the time used during the training is also essential.
In Brazil and Venezuela, militarized police forces receive extended training. Still, fatal police violence rates are extraordinarily high, partly because training models brutal methods and generally fails to teach restraint, according to the report.
However, gun homicides may be a proxy for another explanation, such as armed and hostile suspects, as the report finds rates of gun homicides and fatal police violence were exceptionally related (.97 correlation).
For example, the study found the U.S. had a high fatal police violence rate (3.4 per million) and a heightened rate of gun homicide (3.7 per 100,000).
In contrast, Australia had a reasonably high fatal police violence rate in 2019 (.7 per million) despite lower rates of gun homicide (.14 per 100,000).
In the U.S., where nearly half of Americans own a firearm, given the strong protections of the Second Amendment, guns play a considerable role in the rates.
However, countries with ethnic tensions and short police training times managed to have lower rates of incidents.
The U.K.’s England and Wales, and Spain had low fatal police violence rates despite ethnic tensions and relatively short classroom training duration, like the U.K.’s England and Wales, as well as Spain., the report finds.
But Spain, like Chile, which caused distrust in their police in the past, managed to keep steady rates.
The study suggests that researchers delve into such cases to examine how countries such as Chile and Spain – rife with rising crime or insecurity, inadequate public resources and secretive national police forces with roots in dictatorships – still manage to avoid high fatal police violence rates.
Hirschfield said these are “rather fertile grounds for refining both explanations of exceptionally lethal policing in the U.S. and theories of international variation in lethal policing more broadly.”
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