Data Lacking on Non-Fatal Police Shootings

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There were 1,000 fatal shootings by police officers in 2020, but the overall picture of officer gun violence remains murky. The toll was slightly higher than any year since the Washington Post started tracking in 2015. Criminologist Justin Nix of the University of Nebraska Omaha offered a few caveats on Twitter, reports The Trace. Per capita fatal shootings aren’t necessarily increasing, Nix said. While the absolute number was up, it’s unclear how many overall police interactions there were last year. The denominator matters. The number of interactions can fluctuate by several million nationally from year to year, according to Department of Justice estimates.

There are no national data on non-fatal shootings by cops. Only a handful of states — including California, Colorado, and Texas — keep their own public tallies. In those states, 37 to 47 percent of police shootings result in non-fatal injuries. Nix estimated that if the share nationally was 45 percent, the Post‘s database would be missing an additional 820 non-fatal police shootings per year. “It’s crazy to me that we don’t know how often police officers shoot people in the United States,” Nix wrote. “We should.”

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