With nearly two full months left in 2015, the count of people killed by police in the United States this year has just reached 1,000 — that we know of.
While the numbers include all people killed by police, regardless of the situation, the fact is — there have been 1,000 families left to grieve their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters in just this year alone.
Deaths By Law Enforcement in 2015:
- 92 in January
- 87 in February
- 115 in March
- 104 in April
- 86 in May
- 82 in June
- 126 in July
- 106 in August
- 100 in September
- 97 in October
- 5 in the first two days of November
Extrapolating the numbers for the 305 days of 2015 to an hourly figure, the police have killed someone, on average, every 7.33 hours.
Meanwhile, the Officer Down Memorial Page is reporting gunfire related deaths of on-duty officers is down 20% from last year. So far this year, 32 police officers have been shot and killed on the job, meaning they have been killed, on average, every 228.75 hours.
In fact, being a police officer in the United States is not even in the top 10 most dangerous jobs, according to the Department of Labor.
As there is currently no formal government-run database of lives lost at the hands of law enforcement, the person behind KilledByPolice.net took it upon themselves to begin keeping track in 2013, with one of the first databases of its kind.
On Facebook, they describe their project as:
“Corporate news reports of people killed by nonmilitary law enforcement officers, whether in the line of duty or not, and regardless of reason or method, May 1, 2013 – Present.
Inclusion implies neither wrongdoing nor justification on the part of the person killed or the officer involved. The post merely documents the occurrence of a death.”
The list of lives lost includes the person’s name and photo (where available), their age, a link to further information on the KBP Facebook page, as well as a link to a corresponding news article.
We spoke with the creator of the database, who wishes to remain anonymous, and they informed us that they work alone collecting initial reports, follow ups, and running the Facebook page. An anonymous friend maintains the website.
When we asked about their motivation for starting the database, the creator told Addicting Info:
“I’ve been agitating and organizing against police and state violence since the 80s, read this article in 2011, and it stuck with me.”
The article focused on the fact that there was no national database of police killings. Instead of sitting around being angry, this inspiring individual decided to do something about it.
The work which they do has been intensely valuable, as the FBI currently only tallies data on “justifiable homicides” that are voluntarily provided by police departments — they are not mandated to report the people that their department kills.
In 2014, based exclusively off of information provided willingly by the police departments, the FBI counted a total of 444 killings at the hands of police. Meanwhile, KBP logged 1108 by manually searching through news stories.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice announced that they would be reforming their databases, except police stations reporting their kill numbers will still not be mandatory.
The new database, run by the Bureau of Justice Statistics will now be “surveying police departments, medical examiners’ offices and investigative offices about the reports that it identifies from open source and using data from the multiple sources to obtain a more accurate factual account of each incident.” Similar to what KBP has been doing all along.
Unlike the newer databases such as The Counted (from the Guardian) which only counts people killed by on-duty cops and the one from the Washington Post which counts only police shootings, KBP counts all people killed by cops, period.
Neither count “suicide by cop,” while KBP and another database called Fatal Encounters, do, according to the man who runs Fatal Encounters.
We also spoke to the man who runs Fatal Encounters, Brian Burghart. We asked him what motivated him to start his database, he explained:
“I run a newspaper, I was driving home from work one Friday night and saw this scene of chaos, and I just knew instinctively that a cop had been killed or a cop had killed someone. It made me curious, so I came home and tried to figure out how often someone was killed by police, and I couldn’t find anything that I could trust.”
Fatal Encounters has been going back and logging those killed by police since the year 2000, and they expect to reach 10,000 people counted, with their stories told, in their database very soon.
No matter which database you choose to go by, it is clear as day that the numbers are far too high. Each one of these individuals had friends, family and people who loved them — making the real numbers of victims of police violence impossible to tally.
To put things into perspective, 2,977 people were killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. KBP has tracked 2876 people killed by police since May 1, 2013.
If you would like to donate to keep Killed by Police running, or thank them for their tireless and credit-less work, you can do so here.
Featured image via Twitter