Over 50,000 Years Of Life Lost In 2016 Due To Police Violence

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The potential years of life lost due to police encounters is high, suggesting that, perhaps, we should treat this problem in America as a public health crisis.

Man holds sign that reads, "Stop police brutality."

In 2016, 54,754 years of life were lost because of police violence in America, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health states.

According to the study, which compared the age of individuals at the time of their death to their predicted lifespan, the majority of years of life lost belonged to people of color.

In other words, most of the years of life lost belonged to young blacks and Latinos.

In 2015, the study found, 57,375 years of life were lost due to police violence, and in 2016, 54,754. In 2015 and 2016 combined, 51.5 percent of all years of life lost belonged to people of color, even though people of color comprise only 38.5 percent of the country’s total population.

Among the lives lost, more people died between the ages of 25 and 34. And among those who were younger at the time of their deaths, the majority were of color.

As F. Perry Wilson, an assistant professor of medicine at Yale, breaks down in an article for MedPage Today, individuals who were killed in interactions with the police lost an average of 50 years of their lives. And while African-Americans make up 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, they made up 25.6 percent of the registered fatalities.

That, he added, is a considerable number as it’s similar to the number of lives lost from maternal deaths and much greater than the years lost from accidental firearm incidents.

As such, we wonder if we shouldn’t be looking at police brutality as a public health issue.

While Wilson said that no, police brutality is a justice issue, perceiving this crisis as an epidemic could shift the focus to potential solutions.

It’s clear that many of the policies that affect the population of color the most are also issues that should be addressed through legislation, such as the drug war. Giving law enforcement fewer reasons to target African-Americans and Latinos by bringing the drug war to an end is definitely one of the potential solutions we could embrace if we want to end police brutality. Targeting impunity is also an important step.

When officers see colleagues getting away with murder, they know they, too, can do the same. So perhaps, one of the first solutions we should implement should involve addressing that issue.

Until then, it’s our duty as Americans to admit we have a problem and talk about it as often as possible.

Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

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