2015 was a year marked, among other political and social issues, by widespread discussions on the intersection of race and law enforcement. It also saw the continued increase of video footage exposing what many saw as double standards and racial bias from police forces.
The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has also given rise to extremities on the other side, most recently with Donald Trump claiming in the sixth GOP debate “The police are the mistreated people in this country.”
Coming on the heels of the #ReclaimMLK demonstrations coordinated around the country, the Huffington Post did some research and found – incredulously enough – that not one US state has a clearly defined position on how and when police can use deadly force.
The ritual of an unnecessary police killing with no real accountability has become painfully familiar. The unnecessary deaths of Tamir Rice and Eric Garner in 2014 are among those that galvanized a national movement for greater restraint, accountability and equity in policing.
And yet, 2015 may have been American cops’ deadliest year on record. According to my analysis of the Fatal Encounters database, police violence directly caused or played a role in 1,126 deaths in 2015, up from 1,072 deaths in 2014.
But no local, state or federal lawmakers have banned police from using unnecessary deadly force. Rather, lawmakers at all levels still allow police the maximum latitude to use deadly force that constitutional law permits. Indeed, a comparison with police in the U.K. shows that this leniency goes too far to protect police at the price of civilian deaths.
Given the mainstream American population’s increasing awareness on the need for common-sense firearm regulations, it would seem that we are now at a point where lawmakers can introduce legislation seeking to establish more reasonable accountability on the uses of force from police officers.