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Police Killings Continue At High Rate, Raising Doubts About Reforms

Photo: Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

Police officers continue to kill people at an alarming rate, finds a data analysis that has raised concerns about the Biden administration’s push to expand police investments amid growing concerns about crime, The Guardian reports. Law enforcement in the U.S. have killed 249 people this year as of last week, averaging about three deaths per day and mirroring the deadly force trends of recent years, says Mapping Police Violence, a non-profit research group.

The data suggest that in the nearly two years since George Floyd’s murder, the U.S. has made little progress in preventing deaths at the hands of law enforcement, and that the 2020 promises of systemic reforms have fallen short.

Police have killed about 1,100 people each year since 2013. In 2021, officers killed 1,136 people – one of the deadliest years on record. Mapping Police Violence tracks deaths recorded by police, governments and the media, including cases where people were fatally shot, beaten, restrained, and Tasered.

The Washington Post has reported similar trends, and found that 2021 broke the record for fatal shootings by officers since the newspaper started its database tracking in 2015.

“The shocking regularity of killings suggests that nothing substantive has really changed to disrupt the nationwide dynamic of police violence,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, who founded Mapping Police Violence and Police Scorecard, which evaluates departments. “It demonstrates that we’re not doing enough, and if anything, it appears to be getting slightly worse year over year.”

Advocates argue that the persistent rate of killings is a reason why the U.S. should not be expanding its police forces.

President Biden, who has repeatedly said to “fund the police”, released a budget proposal this week for $30 billion in law enforcement and crime prevention efforts over a decade, including funding to put “more police officers on the beat”.

The proposal, which called for the expansion of “accountable, community policing”, prompted criticisms from racial justice groups. The Movement for Black Lives noted that the White House was proposing only $367 million to support police reform and said Biden’s budget “shows a blatant disregard for his promises to Black people, masked as an effort to decrease crime.”

Michael Gwin, a White House spokesperson, said Biden “remains committed to advancing long-overdue police reforms”.

During the national uprisings after Floyd’s mur