42 Shocking Police Brutality Statistics

In the United States, only a small fraction of the over 17,000 law enforcement agencies track officers’ misconduct reports. The reason for this is unknown. If an officer is cleared of charges and honored for the actions, then any initial reports will not be part of the tracking mechanism.

A vast majority of Americans support the thin blue line. We all want good officers to succeed. Police officers risk death every single day. The sacrifices that law enforcement make on our behalf are often overlooked and underappreciated. Police brutality statistics should not exist, but they do because a small minority of officers abuse their privilege.

The other side of the story is all of the police officers who are injured in the line of duty. This is not referring to the fact that, in spite of the dangers of Covid-19, police officers have still gone to work and Covid-19 has now killed more police officers than all other causes combined (as of September 2020). It is referring to, for example, the over 317 police officers who were injured or killed in protests or targeted attacks…in the week of May 25, 2020 alone (Federalist, June 5, 2020).

Statistics About Police Brutality

1. Police officers are indicted in fewer than 1% of killings, but the indictment rate for civilians involved in a killing is 90%. (FiveThirtyEight)

2. On average, in the United States, a police officer takes the life of a citizen every 7 hours. (Fatal Encounters)

3. In 2015, there were 1,307 people who lost their lives at the hands of a police officer or law enforcement official. In 2016, that number was 1,152. Although lower, both years are still higher than the 1,149 people who were killed by police in 2014. (Fatal Encounters/Mapping Police Violence)

4. 52% of police officers report that it is not unusual for law enforcement officials to turn a blind eye to the improper conduct of other officers. (US Department of Justice)

5. 61% of police officers state that they do not always report serious abuse that has been directly observed by fellow officers. (US Department of Justice)

6. 43% of police officers agree with this sentiment: “Always following the rules is not compatible with the need to get their job done.” (US Department of Justice)

7. 84% of police officers have stated in a recent survey that they have directly witnessed a fellow officer using more force than was necessary. (US Department of Justice)

8. Just 5% of the police departments in the United States contributed statistics to a 2001 report that was created to track police brutality on civilians. (US Department of Justice)

9. The estimated cost of police brutality incidents in the United States is $1.8 billion. (Cop Crisis)

10. 93.7% of the victims of police brutality that involve the discharge of a weapon are men. (The Guardian)

11. People who are African-American/Black are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while being unarmed compared to a Caucasian/White individual. The reasons or circumstances of the deaths are not revealed. (The Guardian)

12. Native Americans are just as likely to be killed by law enforcement officials in the United States as African-Americans/Blacks from 1999-2013 data. (CDC)

13. 1 in 4 people who are killed by law enforcement officials in the United States is unarmed. The reasons or circumstances of the deaths are not revealed. (Mic)

14. Out of the 2.3 million people who are incarcerated in the United States right now, an estimated 1 million of them are African-Americans/Black. (NAACP)

15. The most common form of police misconduct in 2010 was excessive force. This is similar to the data that was collected in 2001 by the US Government. (Cato Institute/US Department of Justice)

16. The second most common form of police misconduct is sexual assault. (Cato Institute)

17. 1 out of every 3 people that are killed by police officers in any given year in the United States is African-American/Black. (Mapping Police Violence)

18. Where you live matters when it comes to police brutality. If you are an African-American/Black individual, then you are 7 times more likely to be killed by a police officer in Oklahoma than you are if you lived in Georgia. (Mapping Police Violence)

19. In 17% of the 100 largest cities in the United States, police officers killed African-American/Black men at a higher rate than the US murder rate of 2014. (Mapping Police Violence)

20. Although Chicago draws a lot of attention due to its total number of murders, including a threat from the Executive Office to “bring the Feds” in 2017, it ranks 25th in the 100 largest US cities for police officers killing African-American/Black men. (Mapping Police Violence)

21. 69% of the victims of police brutality in the United States who are African-American/Black were suspected of a non-violent crime and were unarmed. The reasons or circumstances of the deaths are not revealed. (Mapping Police Violence)

22. The levels of violent crime in US cities are not a factor in the likelihood of police brutality occurring. An individual is 15 times more likely to be the victim of police brutality in Orlando, FL compared to Buffalo, NY even though Orlando has a lower violent crime rate. (Mapping Police Violence)

23. 97% of the cases of police brutality that were tracked in 2015 did not result in any officer involved being charged with a crime. (Mapping Police Violence)

24. 27% of police killings in the United States from 2013-2016 were committed by police departments in the 100 largest cities in the country. (Mapping Police Violence)

25. African-American/Black people were 39% of the people killed in the 100 largest cities in the US, despite being only 21% of the population in these cities. (Mapping Police Violence)

26. Only 3 police departments in the largest 100 cities in the United States did not kill anyone from 2013-2016. Those cities are Buffalo, New York; Irvine, California; and Plano, Texas. (Mapping Police Violence)

27. African-American/Black and Hispanic police officers are more likely to fire their weapon than Caucasians/Whites, especially when confronting an African-American/Black suspect. (US Department of Justice)

28. African-American/Black police officers are 3.3 times more likely to fire a gun at a crime scene than other cops. (Ridgeway)

29. Police officers are 18.5 times more likely to be killed by an African-American/Black person than a police officer killing an unarmed African-American/Black person. The reasons or circumstances of the deaths are not revealed. (FBI)

30. 135 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2016, which was the highest number of fatalities in the past 5 years. (Time)

31. The number of police officers who were killed in 2016 in ambush-style attacks: 21. (Time)

32. More than 900,000 law enforcements serve across the United States at any given time over the course of a year. (Time)

33. The average number of fatalities suffered by police officers in the United States over the past 10 years: 151. The average number of civilians killed by police officers over the past decade per year: 1,058. (Time)

34. 1930 was the deadliest year for police officers in the United States, with 307 officers killed in the line of duty. (Time)

35. Of the people that are killed by the police while not attacking, 39% of those people are African-American/Black individuals. (Vox)

36. 42% of African-American/Black individuals who were killed by police during their arrest were not attacking when they were killed and they were not killed with a rifle or a shotgun. (Vox)

37. The Dallas police department has implemented mandatory de-escalation techniques as part of their officer training. As a result of this effort, the police department experienced a 60% drop in the number of complaints against police from 2009-2014. It also resulted in a 30% drop in police assaults and a 40% drop in police shootings. (Dallas News)

38. Even though police body cameras have been being implemented across the United States, in New Orleans in 2014, 59% of the time the cameras were not on when police officers were in a use of force event. (The Nation)

39. 15 states are seeking to exempt body camera footage from Freedom of Information Act laws that exist. (The Nation)

40. In the first systematic study of police brutality in 1971, it was found that the overall rate of unwarranted force to be low: about 1% of all encounters with citizens. (ACLU)

41. In a 1982 Police Services Study funded by the Federal Government, 12,022 people were randomly interviewed in 3 metropolitan areas. 13.6% of those interviewed were found to have cause to complain about police services in the previous year, but only 30% of those who had cause to complain actually started a formal process. (ACLU)

42. 10% of police officers account for 33.2% of all use-of-force incidents. (Christopher Commission)

Blue lives matter. Black lives matter. All lives matter. There are police departments doing an exceptional job and should be commended. Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect us. By following what they are doing right and fixing the reasons why things go wrong, the United States should be able to improve the system for all people.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.