[See my previous posts 1 and 2 and about NYC.]
It's not unreasonable to believe -- even when one knows the vast majority of police-involved shootings to be justified -- that three police-involved homicides per day is perhaps two too many. Can the number of police-involved killings be reduced without placing officer's lives in danger? Of course. We know this because some departments shoot a hell of lot more people than other departments.
If California could reduce their rate of police-involved shootings down to the rate that already exists in the state of New York? 135 people a year would by killed by police. And that's just in California alone.
Police in some states are much more likely to pull the trigger than in other states. Now this does not take crime and violence against police into account, which would in an ideal world. But the differences are still incredibly stark. And since we're looked it states rather than cities, I mean, it's not like cities in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan normally come to mind as epitomizing peace, love, and non-violence.
[It's worth warning and repeating that all this assumes the data is valid enough. I am assuming that. But I may be wrong.]
Oklahoma has a police-involved homicide rate of 0.78. That's higher than the overall homicide rate in Sweden. Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona all have rates of police-involved killings that are twice the national average (0.36) and four to five times higher than Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Michigan, and New York.
My guess is the differences have to do with better training, more police officers per capita, less public tolerance of police-involved killings, higher police standards and pay, and differences in police culture.
But really, in terms of police training and standards, there's no reason to think we couldn't bring all states in line with the best states. And if police across the nation killed just as often as police in those least trigger-happy six states currently do? That would cut the national rate of police-involved killings by half and save 500 lives a year. This would also save 500 cops a year from having to shoot and kill somebody. Police lives matter, too.