Two a Day

Two a Day June 27, 2015

US police have shot and killed two people every day for the past five months. (This was sent me by someone from another country, looking on in amazement at the fact that we lead western democracies in the number of people killed by police.)

In Iceland, the first and only fatal police shooting in history was last December. It was a national event.

Here, it’s so common nobody notices. Clearly, we are the greatest nation on earth.

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  • Kim

    Work a shift in the city with my husband. God hope you come home alive, then post an opinion. I’d love to see how life or death situations are handled by those who criticize. There are bad cops like there are bad priests. The vast majority just want to come home to their families at night.

    • Marthe Lépine

      But… Could the statistics possibly, just maybe possibly, suggest that there are more bad cops in the US than in some of those European countries mentioned in the linked articles? Particularly among white US cops? Fine, I agree that your husband is a good cop. However, part of the problem could be that so many people, particularly minority people, have become so very afraid of the bad cops, and, like your husband, just pray that they will get home alive, that they cannot make the difference? Refusing to accept criticism and expecting people to not even notice a problem, and blaming them, not the bad cops, for coming up with the facts, is not a very good way to change that, don’t you know?

      • Dave G.

        Give that we’re averaging about two cops killed in the line of duty every week (not as bad as the average, but following the sharp increase seen in 2014), I’d like to think cop killings and cops being killed are part of a larger problem. Focus on the symptoms can be good, but there comes a point when looking at the disease will be necessary.

        • Marthe Lépine

          One side seems to show more restraint than the other: killed by cops: 2 a day; killed by “the other side” (or retaliation?): only 2 a week…

          • Dave G.

            Retaliation? You mean they thought they had it coming?

      • Artevelde

        Europe is very much a mixed bag and in many ways it’s simply not fair to compare Iceland with the USA as a whole, or for that matter, with rural Germany or suburban Paris. I used to live in a city where migration and generational unemployment was a problem, and I’m convinced the same mechanisms of fear, anger and disrespect were present. People from local minorities (and in Belgium that would mostly be Turkish and Moroccan migrants) would try to keep police out of their neighborhood, or would gang up on them. Officers who came out of that same minority would be shunned or labeled as traitors. Obviously there are bad cops as well, but I couldn’t say whether we have more or less than the USA. The main difference, I’d say, is that it is still very, very rare for a police officer to be confronted with someone carrying a firearm. The state monopoly on firearms is more or less intact.

      • Joseph

        Interesting. You know, the vast majority of cops in Ireland are unarmed. I love the police here. I don’t have to worry every time I see one. If the cops in the US are trigger happy, perhaps it’s time to take away their guns. I’m pretty sure the Dirty Harry types will instantly become the weak high school hall monitors they were before they decided to torment everyone behind a badge.

        • Pete the Greek

          I don’t have to worry when I see cops in my city either. But then, I don’t shoot at them, try to fight them, etc, so that might have something to do with it.

      • Pete the Greek

        Look at the mug shots of the cops arrested in the Baltimore incident.

        No it’s not just white cops. Nor is it just men.

    • zebbart

      The problem is not necessarily bad cops but a bad situation. When I hear stats like this I don’t shake my fist at poliemen, I shake my fist at our politics and our culture, at the poverty and the guns and the racism and the hyper aggression and the militarization that form the environment in which police work.

      • Dave G.

        I think you’re onto something, but simply stopping at our culture would suffice. I sometimes think if we look at the cause of our society’s ills, we will realize it is us.

        • chezami

          We have our police shootings coming to us. Sounds legit.

          • Dave G.

            Really? I can’t believe anyone reading what I wrote would think that’s what I was saying.

      • rmichael

        A big part of the problrm is that we don’t have A CULTURE, we have hundreds of cultures all with different ethical and moral standards, many of which are at odds for a well ordered free and safe society. Our sociery is not a melting pot- we are more like a Gumbo. And with the current politically correct atmosphere, the better portions of our society are told to “SHUT UP!!! or there will be consequences…”

    • Joseph

      Not all cops are pigs… but all pigs are cops. I have retired policemen in my family… and they lament how policing has become. One of them even got in an argument with a pig or two on occasion.

      • virago

        With that kind of weak reasoning, how do you get through the day?!

  • Marthe Lépine
  • Kim

    Please show the statistics you have found.
    Comparing Iceland to the United States is apples to oranges.

    The answers are not simple. It is ugly and violent. Life and death, lightning fast decisions must be made continuously.
    My husband is cursed and yelled at, spat on and threatened while trying to help a situation. If officers no longer feel that they are able to protect themselves and are no longer respected, which is increasingly happening,
    no one in their right mind will do the job. And then what?

    The behavior of the public in my neck of the woods shows a profound disrespect for authority, not fear of police.

    • Dave G.

      I have a feeling that the profound disrespect is not limited to police. And sadly, the culture of disrespect that far too many of us love and celebrate is likely found within the police force as well, as it is outside of the police force, and everywhere. We have family and friends who are police officers, so I definitely sympathize. Nonetheless, I fear it is a greater disease that is the problem, and the violence on both sides of the badges is merely a symptom.

      • Kim

        Agreed. This greater disease permeates society

    • Jamesthelast

      Why is it so hard for people to realize that saying America’s police system seriously needs reform is not the same as saying all cops are evil scum?

      • Joseph

        Because… Facebook memes…
        After all: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and tasering a 92-year old woman to death is American culture in a nutshell.

        • Pete the Greek

          Were you intending your second sentence to be an example of the behavior described in the first?

  • Pete the Greek

    Is Iceland waging a drug war?

    Does Iceland have an underclass the government derisively treats as a failed race in permanent custodial care?

    Once Iceland has both of those, or America stops with both, we can have a valid comparison.

    • Andy

      Our “war against _____” and “war on _____” rhetoric has invaded our consciousness to the level that we are ineured to death. We see the underclass as part of the enemy that must be beaten. We in reality cannot compare ourselves to many places and those that we might compare ourselves to we find distasteful. We need not new politics but a new morality that sees the inherent worth if each person as a child of God and not an enemy to be defeated.

    • Joseph

      No, Iceland isn’t waging a war on [place whatever you want here]. Also, the cops aren’t running around killing innocent people everyday. So, you’re right, Iceland is nothing like the US.

      • Pete the Greek

        ” Also, the cops aren’t running around killing innocent people everyday.”
        – American cops are killing innocent people every day? Really? Can you please list a couple of examples from just today? 6/29/2015? I mean if innocents are being gunned down like chickens in a slaughterhouse, constantly, every day, you should have several examples of just today, right?

        Another question: Is there EVER a time when American law enforcement shoots that is justified? Are you perhaps the person who reviews these cases and gives them your expert stamp of approval? I mean, you are declaring that you KNOW they are innocent, which implies you KNOW the situations of all these shootings.

        I just ask, because your off hand statement kind of implies that you are, otherwise you sound like a ass.

  • The Iceland police record of no killings dates back to it’s independence in 1944, call it a 70 year streak. Iceland has about 1 / 1000th of the population of the US at 323k people. Corrected for population size differences that’s one police killing approximately every 25 days equivalent. Clearly Iceland is doing better than the US, just let’s do the math right. They’re about 50:1 better in an island society with low crime rates and widespread gun ownership (but not at US levels).

    The one thing I’d really challenge is that nobody notices. That’s a self-defeating observation and just not true.

    • Guest

      If their largest city were in the US, it would be roughly our 221st largest city. Their second-largest city has about a fourth of the population of the largest.

    • Joseph

      They only notice when it gets put up on YouTube. Then it causes a big row because party Republicans always jump to the defense of the cops. Then 100 posts on Facebook appear with memes about how cops aren’t respected enough, which then equates them with soldiers and firefighters and if you don’t like the fact that the pigs are killing people with reckless abandon then you just aren’t a good American. In a nutshell, as long as there are people defending pigs who shoot first and ask questions later, these numbers will never go down.

      • I, personally, am working to create a framework to address this. I suspect, but am perfectly willing to be led by the actual data in a different direction, that the case where the cop is persecuted instead of persecutor predominates. The big problem is that we don’t treat the entire subject with the seriousness it deserves. We don’t even have an accurate count of police departments in the US, much less how often they kill or violate civil rights. It’s all guesswork and emotional manipulation on both sides. That disgusts me that we don’t make the effort to find out the real truth and deal with it, whatever it is.

        And yes, I’m a republican.

  • Mike

    Iceland is smaller than i think some apartment building complexes in the us.

    • Pete the Greek

      And like A class loft apartment buildings in the US, pretty much racially and culturally homogeneous from what I understand. More like comparing apples to aircraft carriers.

      • Mike Petrik

        Your obsession (and TM’s) with treating issues seriously and fairly is downright charming!

        • Pete the Greek

          Well, I’m not a paragon of reason and fairness, as much as I would like to be.

          This particular kind of thinking just REALLY gets to me. The thought process goes:

          “Let’s take this ONE data point from two totally different cultures, no, scratch that, are practically alien to each other in many amazing ways, that points out something that I like talking about and ignore absolutely everything else because I don’t want to have to think too hard.”

          The ‘analysis’ then results in lots of pompous ‘harumphs’ and head shaking and people feeling smart and good about themselves, but nothing worth while is mentioned.

          Using single data point comparisons between countries results in no real actionable knowledge. Heck, forget countries, comparing cities WITHIN the US using this method is stupid, but is usually more obvious. Do people REALLY think that is really that little difference between Camden, New Jersey and Provo, Utah?