Two FBI guys, one Maryland State cop and an aspiring law enforcement officer want you to know that cops exercise a lot of restraint. They don’t always shoot people when they could. As my J-school prof told me, never to put stats into the lede, so you’ll either have to click here to read Restraint in the Use of Deadly Force or make the jump for highlights, as provided by a forcescience.org email blast. Suffice it to say the report’s authors are almost as sensitive about their credibility (“the fact that this study was preliminary does not diminish its significance”) as they are about media bias (“this media focus on the use of deadly force helps create the misconception that police officers use deadly force more often than they actually do”). The authors reckon the idea that there’s “excessive and widespread use of deadly force within the law enforcement community” is hokum. And they’ve got the stats to prove it. Or do they . . .
[Dr. Anthony Pinizzotto, Edward Davis, Shannon Bohrer and Benjamin Infanti] polled nearly 300 LEOs, with an average of 17 years on the job. Collectively, the officers had more than 5,000 years of experience.
• 80% reported that “they had been assaulted at least once during their career” (the average was seven assaults in the line of duty), with 27% injured severely enough to require time off work;
• 96% said they had drawn their firearms “at least once each year…under threatening or critical circumstances”;
• 70% said they had been “involved in at least one situation where they legally could have discharged their firearm.” On average, each had experienced four such situations;
• Yet only 20% had actually fired their weapon in a critical incident.
“Officers in the sample were involved in 1,189 situations where deadly force was a legal course of action,” the researchers note.
“Officers used deadly force in 7% of these situations. In other words, [they] used restraint 93% of the time even when not legally mandated to do so. This…represents a significant amount of restraint by police officers.”
Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Interestingly, the FBI-published document says cops are responsible for 385 homicides per year. What’s the bet that civilian defensive gun use accounts for twice that number? I wonder how much restraint those of us on the other side of the thin blue line use.
Hey, did you know you are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist? True story.