REPORTS OF POLICE SHOOTINGS IN THE UNITED STATES are so regular that we hardly blink an eye at them anymore. We more or less see it as an inevitability of law enforcement: sometimes, police have to use lethal force to stop a bad guy.
When you compare us to other countries, however, this appears to not at all be the case: The Guardian has set up a counter for 2015 to try and track every police killing in the United States. The numbers on their own are shocking: 500 people killed by police in the United States this year. When it gets really crazy is when you start comparing it to other countries.
Iceland police have only killed a single person in the country’s entire 71-year existence. You may say, “Well that’s an unfair comparison, Iceland only has around 300,000 people, we have 300 million.” And that’s true. So compare it to a place in the United States of a similar size: Stockton, California, where police killed 3 people in the first 5 months of 2015.
The Guardian breaks down more of these killings, but the basic gist of it is this: police in the United States are killing way more people than the police of other countries. And while this is undoubtedly a complicated issue, it does raise the question: are these deaths the necessary cost of living in a safe society? Or is there another way?