Study: Deaths from law enforcement on the rise

A study from the College of Medicine show more people are dying from law enforcement intervention.


Max Jackson

A police officer talks with a student at a home football game. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Gregory Cox, Managing Editor

The number of deaths from legal law intervention has risen by 45 percent over the past 15 years, according to a new study from FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.  

From 1999 to 2013, there have been 5,511 deaths resulting from law enforcement in the United States according to the study.

In 2000, 279 people were killed by legal intervention. In 2012, 507 people were killed.

“The event in Ferguson got us thinking about this,” said Joanna Drowos, an assistant professor of biomedical science and the author of the study. “We started looking at the data and looking at the trends. We were wondering if there were any disparities by geography.”

Upon looking into the incidents and comparing them to geography, Drowos found that California had many of the highest numbers for all races.

1,094 — or approximately 20 percent of all deaths — happened in California over the past 15 years.

“It tends to be the southwest states that have the highest,” said Drowos.

Florida had 244 of deaths from law enforcement.

During the 15-year period, there was a 45 percent increase of deaths from legal intervention, and 96 percent of them were men. 76 percent of those men were between the age of 15 and 44.

Of these men, African-Americans and white Hispanics had higher rates of death than non-Hispanic whites and Asians or Pacific Islanders.

“Any cause of preventable mortality, is something that we in the public health community are worried about,” said Drowos.  

The results of this study are currently published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

This study comes just before the announcement of the investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department after the release of a video showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, according to the New York Times.

Gregory Cox is the managing editor of the University Press. If you would like to contact him regarding this or other articles, email him at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter.