This is great news for advocates of police reform.
Chicago in 2016 will probably see police shoot just 15 or so people (based quite sketchily on January through March figures). This compares to 45 people shot in 2014. The decrease is without doubt due in part to those who keep a laser-like focus on police misconduct. The number of those shot by Chicago Police has plummeted for two consecutive years.
But it's also very likely that Chicago will see close to 3,500 people shot this year. That would be 500 more than 2015. And that was 500 more than 2014. And that was 500 more than 2013. And for each 500-person increase in shootings, roughly 480 victims are black or hispanic.
What if -- hypothetically of course and absent any corresponding decrease in violence in general -- what if police-involved shootings served as a proxy (an indirect indicator) for police officers' engagement and interaction with violent criminals and the criminal class? It's not inconceivable. Another indicator is that police stops in Chicago have also plummeted.
In the police world we'd call these facts "clues." Of course in the academic world I'm "just guessing." But I'll have a lot of time to guess before "hard social science" (that's a joke, by the way) can prove what's going on.
But hey, why focus on the negative? Why focus on criminals and dead young black and hispanic men when we can just keep the heat on police? Let's assume heroic police behavior is criminal. Let's criminally prosecute innocent cops and drive other cops who defend themselves into hiding. Let's build a social movement on (what turns out to be) a lie and then pretend it doesn't matter because, well, it could have been true. And then, when police do less and crime goes up, deny it. And then, when you can't deny it any longer, say we don't know why crime is up. Or better yet, blame the police.
But police-involved shootings are way down!
Update: here's the same data but compiled on June 6: