Not Just “A Few Bad Apples”: U.S. Police Kill Civilians at Much Higher Rates than Other Countries

Police violence is a systemic problem in the U.S., not simply incidental, and it happens on a scale far greater than other wealthy nations.

There is no question that the number of police killings of civilians in the U.S. – who are disproportionately Black and other people of color – are the result of policies and practices that enable and even encourage police violence. Compared to police in other wealthy democracies, American police kill civilians at incredibly high rates:

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chart comparing the rates of police killings in the U.S. with 9 other wealthy nations. The U.S. rate of 33.5 per 10 million people is over 3 times higher than the next-highest rate, which is 9.8 per 10 million people in Canada

The chart above compares the annual rates of police killings in each country, accounting for differences in population size. This is the most apples-to-apples comparison we can make. But the total number of deaths at the hands of police is also worth seeing in comparison with other countries:

chart comparing the total number of police killings in the U.S. with 9 other wealthy nations. U.S. police killed 1,099 people in 2019, while none of the other 9 countries compared had more than 36 police killings in the most recent year with data

The sources for these charts are listed in the table below:

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Articles by: Alexi Jones and Wendy Sawyer

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