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Research shows that deaths at the hands of police officers impact people of certain races and ethnicities more, pointing to systemic racism in policing, according to a scientific report in The Lancet.

Recent high-profile killings by police. have prompted calls for more extensive and public data reporting on police violence, which is an urgent public health crisis in the U.S., according to the study by the GBD 2019 Police Violence US Subnational Collaborators.

Black people are killed by police at nearly two and a half times the rate of white people, studies show. Widely publicized violent acts, such as police killings of Black people and decisions not to indict the officers involved in the incidents, may harm the mental health of Black communities, a recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.

Nearly 2,000 police overhaul and accountability bills in all states and Washington, D.C. have been filed as federal and state lawmakers face pressure to respond to continued police shootings and nationwide protests. 

Across all races and states in the U.S., the report in The Lancet estimates approximately 31,000 deaths from police violence between 1980 and 2018, representing about 17,000 more deaths than reported by the National Vital Statistics System.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NVSS is the oldest and most successful example of intergovernmental data sharing in public health and the shared relationships, standards and procedures form the mechanism by which the National Center for Health Statistics collects and disseminates the nation’s official vital statistics.

Between 1980 and 2018, the age-standardized mortality rate due to police violence recorded was highest in non-Hispanic Black people, followed by Hispanic people of any race, non-Hispanic white people and non-Hispanic people of other races, according to the report.

The analysis of police violence also shows that the NVSS misclassified and underreported about 55% of their estimated deaths from police violence between 1980 and 2018. Furthermore, some deaths were missing, underreported or misclassified by the NVSS, the report contends.

According to the report, the top five states with the highest underreporting rates were:

The five states with the lowest underreporting rates in the same time frame were:

The collaborators compared data from the NVSS to three nongovernmental, open-source databases on police violence: fatal encounters, mapping police violence and the count. Using these rates to inform correction factors, they provide adjusted estimates of deaths due to police violence for all states, ages, sexes and racial and ethnic groups from 1980 to 2019 across the U.S.

For more information from the report click here.

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