Utah is the happiest state in the country — we’re told. Though the state does have high suicide rates, those might be explainable in biochemical terms, neatly enough. So what are we to make of the Beehive State’s disturbing pattern in other-person homicide?
Police shootings dominate the stats:
A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahns kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence.
And, as the Tribune explains: “so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives — 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan — than has violence between spouses and dating partners.”
The article goes on to talk about police training and other important issues surrounding police use of deadly force, but the long-term trends and are not clear.
We know that violent crime is going down in the country. Are police shootings going up, or have they merely remained stable against the rest of the violence?
Such issues were not addressed in the article. And over at Reason, Anthony L. Fisher brings up the fundamental problem: “This article serves as a useful reminder that there is no national database of shootings by police, and save for a few journalists, academics and sports websites, no efforts to create one.”
The issue is vital, for we give a lot of power to police personnel. And power can corrupt them as much as anyone else. But until we have better information, the big picture remains far too fuzzy.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.