Wholly Misleading Half Truth: Odds of Being Killed by Cops vs. Terrorists

Of course cops kill more Americans than terrorists do (1102 people in 2014). The police are here, and a large part of their job is dealing with dangerous people (57 cops were killed violently in 2014). Terrorists are mostly in other countries, and while they have been known to attack the US, that isn’t particularly common. Maybe the way we over-react makes it appear like a bad idea.

However, the real question of who you should fear more isn’t how many Americans the police kills. It is how many Americans that behave as you do the police kills. Presumably, if you try to run over or shoot a cop your odds of being killed by the police go up considerably. What we don’t know, because the people who criticize the police don’t trust the legal system, is how many police shootings are unjustified. Cops train to make instant shoot/don’t shoot decisions, but of course instant decisions aren’t going to be taken with full information or time to consider it.

h/t Shaun Lee


Bad Comparison – Freddy Krueger vs. Police

I’m not sure there’s much to debunk in this meme. Presumably, the meme author is aware that:

  1. Not all police kills are bad. Sometimes they are in self defense, or to stop a violent criminal from hurting other people. Freddy Krueger, OTOH, never kills under justified circumstances.
  2. The police is a large group, which naturally does more than a single person. If US cops kill ten times as many people as Canadian cops, for example, that wouldn’t mean the US is ten times worse. Just that there are about ten of us for each Canadian.
  3. Freddy Krueger, not to put too fine a point on it, isn’t real.

However, this is a smart rhetorical technique. When you make a joke, nobody expect it to pass the reality filter. So the idea still sinks in, without having to pass any kind of sanity check.

h/t Patrick Richardson

Bad Comparison – Rape Kits vs. Drug Kits


Chris Byrne:

That’s because drug chargeso undergo the procedure at hospitals. The hospitals maintain the collected evidence in a sealed envelope identified only by a number, unless police access its contents upon the victim’s decision to press charges.” If Veronica Victim was raped, went to the hospital, but then didn’t file a complaint with the police there will be an untested rape kit kept somewhere. But is it the police’s fault?

plead out at over a 90% rate when the test results come out, AND because the tests take a few seconds and cost basically nothing.

Rape kits take hours of lab work, cost hundreds of dollars, and even under the best of circumstances can take weeks to come back from the lab; and still only about 20% of rapists who are tried are convicted, and only about 7% of reported rapes overall result in a conviction (many reported rapes go unsolved or do not result in a prosecution. And of course, that’s just for rapes that get reported. At least 60% and as many as 95% of rapes are never reported, depending on whose estimates you believe. Of those higher estimates it’s only about 3% of rapists who ever see prison time ).

Prosecutors maximize their incentives just like everyone else.

Ori: A drug test is also much stronger evidence. If you test positive for cocaine, it means you took cocaine. But if Wanda Woman has semen from Manny Man in her, it only means that they had sex. It doesn’t solve the problem of proving that it was rape rather than consensual sex.

Another issue is that women can get a rape kit taken and then not complain for rape to the police. Quoting form Wikipedia: “These tests allow victims too traumatized to go to the police t

Bad Comparison – Police in the US vs. Mexico

US “police” is a large number of federal, state, county, and municipal agencies. So it is no wonder that statistics collection is difficult and therefore imperfect. This estimate is 93% of 1,100 a year, or about 1020. This data does not distinguish between justifiable homicide (criminals don’t always come nicely just because you tell them they’re under arrest) and murder.

Mexican police is notoriously corrupt (see the references to the Wikipedia article). The protests in the article are the result of a massacre of 43 people. When was the last time a US police force massacred such a large group, under orders from local gangs? Would such a massacre have encountered apathy when even a single death can cause rioting?

h/t Patrick Richardson