An insensitive response from me

2015-11-20 04:13

Fay Wells told her story to the Washington Post. It all started when she locked herself out of her home, as I assume we’ve all done once or twice. After calling a locksmith, she was confronted by nearly 20 police officers, with guns drawn. They entered her home and made sure both that she belonged there and that her home was secure. Then they left, and reportedly did not file an official report. Ms Wells has filed a complaint, but, from her description, I doubt there was any misconduct on the part of police in this case. They had to take the emergency call from her neighbor seriously.

She understandably feels violated, but there is a silver lining here. Research from Denmark has shown that, at least in Denmark and its neighboring countries, one of the best things police can do to minimize the number of police shootings is to arrive with a large number of officers. While a large number of police officers is more scary in the moment for a suspect, the situation is significantly safer for all involved. Perhaps this is the case, in part, because it is more frightening for the suspect, who will be less likely to escalate. I speculate that it is because officers are less afraid, more focused and better organized when working in teams.

Because statistics on shots fired by police in the US are incomplete (by design), it is hard to know if this European observation carries over to the States. A quick review of anecdata supports it. Using one of the community-compiled listings of these events and coding some data from their sources sounds like a good data research project for a student.




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