The city of Riverside, California appears to be, by far, the city in which police are most likely to commit justifiable homicide. I listed a rough rank order of cities in my previous post. Riverside is almost 50 percent higher than the next highest cities, St. Louis and Baltimore. (Even more so if one takes into account Riverside's population gains over the past decade.)
Riverside police kill an average of 4.5 people a year. This is very high for a city with about 300,000 people. New York police kill about 13 people per year. But NYC has 8 million friggin' people!
Other cities with a lot of police-involved homicides, like St. Louis and Baltimore, have a lot of crime. Not Riverside. Over the past decade (2003-2012) there have been 14.6 homicides per year in Riverside. This is on par with about the national average of 5 per 100,000. St. Louis, by comparison, about the same size as Riverside, sees about 126 murders annually. Baltimore, twice as large, has averaged 248 murders. Baltimore and St. Louis have a lot of murders. Since there are more murderers, one would expect police to shoot more of them.
I've invented an acronym called PIHN. It stands for "Police-Involved Homicide Number." I've also decided it's pronounced "pin."
PIHN takes a city's violence into account and assumes a direct relationship between homicides in a city and police-involved shootings in that city. A higher PIHN means that there are more police-involved homicides for a given level of violence (presumably a poorly trained more trigger-happy police department). A low PIHN means fewer police-involved homicides (a better trained and less trigger-happy police department).
I applied PIHN to the 10 cities with the highest rate of justifiable police-involved homicides in America and also to the 10 largest American cities. First the cities in which police kill a lot of people, per capita.
Notice the cities ranked 2, 3, 4 (St. Louis, Baltimore, and Newark) in police-involved homicides drop way down if one takes the homicide rate into consideration.
Here are the 10 biggest cities. New York, even with a low crime rate, has a low PIHN. Not surprising to me, because the NYPD is very restrained in shooting (despite what you may read). And there's a general clustering between 2 and 4 for the top five.
(Note the scale on this figure is half of the other one)
San Diego is interesting because it doesn't even rank in the top 25 for the overall rate of police-involved homicides. But San Diego is a safe city, overall. Given the low number of homicides in San Diego, the high number of police-involved homicides -- a PIHN close to 12 -- is unexpected and striking.
Among the 20 cities I looked at, there's a cluster of PIHNs between 2 and 3: Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Newark, New York, Baltimore, Dallas, and New Orleans. There's variance, to be sure, but they're all kind of in the same ballpark.
And then you go west of the Mississippi and the PIHNs skyrocket, particularly in California. Tulsa's PIHN is 5.4. Sacramento is 8.9. And Riverside, California? Riverside's PIHN is 31.1! That's crazy high. Here are the highest PIHNs:
(Keep in mind this top-ten list comes only from the 20 cities I calculated, which are the 10 largest cities and the 10 cities with the highest police-involved homicide rate, based on URC data.)
Riverside, California. What is up with Riverside?
[You too can calculate PIHN! Divide the police-involved homicide rate or number by the average overall homicide rate or number. I used 2003-2012 homicide data from city-data). And then multiply by 100 to get a PIHN greater than 1. Or I'll do it for you if you do some of the grunt work. Go to city-data, enter the city of your choice, scroll down to crime, add up the homicides numbers from 2003 to 2012.]
[Data for San Antonio police-involved homicides are averaged from just the past six year, since they didn't report to the UCR before then.]