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Prev Med. 2020 Mar 5;134:106046. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106046. [Epub ahead of print]

Fatal police shootings of civilians, by rurality.

Author information

1
Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States of America. Electronic address: hemenway@hsph.harvard.edu.
2
Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States of America.
3
Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States of America; Department of Health Sciences, Bouve College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, United States of America.

Abstract

In the United States, firearm homicides disproportionately occur in urban areas. We examine whether the same is true for fatal police shootings. We use data on fatal police shootings from Washington Post's "Fatal Force Database" (2015-2017). Using Census population estimates, we examine rates of fatal police shootings, stratified by race/ethnicity (White, Black, Hispanic), across urban and rural areas using five different classification schemes. Two classification schemes-from the National Center for Health Statistics and the US Department of Agriculture-use counties as the basic unit. Three classification schemes-from the National Center for Education Statistics, the US Census Bureau, and the website "FiveThirtyEight" use zip codes. There were just under 1000 fatal police shootings per year from 2015 to 2017, a rate of 0.31 per 100,000 population. Black victimization rates were more than twice those for Whites, with Hispanic victimization rates in between. Across all classification schemes there was little difference in rates of fatal police shootings between urban and rural areas, with suburbs having somewhat lower rates. Among Whites, rates of fatal police shooting victimization were higher in rural areas compared to urban areas, while among Blacks the rates were higher in more urban areas. Our results suggest that efforts to reduce police shootings of civilians should include rural and suburban as well as urban areas.

KEYWORDS:

Firearms; Legal intervention homicide; Police shootings; Rural; Suburban; Urban

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of competing interest The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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