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Use of Police Force in America

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Blake Tettleton

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A hot topic of debate in the US in recent years has been over police brutality, or more specifically the lethal aspect of it. Americans are worried about the exuberant amount of lethal shootings carried about by government controlled police forces across the entire nation. In 2017 alone, 987 people were lethally shot by the police, up 24 deaths from 2016’s total of 963, making police shootings a completely normalized part of American society.

To bring in some facts that compare police conducted shootings in America to those in other democratic and thriving nations, in England and Wales, there were 55 fatal police shootings in the 24 years preceding 2015, while in the United States there were over 59 fatal shootings within the first 24 days of 2015. In Iceland there has been 1 fatal police shooting in the history of the nation’s existence, while in Stockton CA alone there were 3 fatal shootings in the first 5 months of 2015.

The primary debate has been against what is said to be an over-militarized police force, one with more funding than necessary and a nearly endless appetite for power or at least the illusion of it, and an armed population with well known and well shown hatred for said police force. Proponents to the police shootings have claimed the police have hair trigger tendencies and are overly brutal and flippant with human life, while others claim that the police are justified in their use of lethal force, and that the cautious nature and distrust that come with the job often explain the claimed necessity of most shootings.  

The shootings have triggered mass protests and riots multiple times in recent years across America, and there seems to be no near light at the end of the tunnel, as the shootings keep gaining mass amounts of media coverage and attention from every corner of the country, and the protests and actions against these shootings keep progressing, with the rift between activists and police supporters growing larger by the day.

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