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Report: Gun control policies may result in reduction of force by police officers


A new report from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions Team has found that U.S. police officers kill more people in days than other countries kill in years — but it also offered potential ways to reduce the violence.

The three key findings of the report were that cameras reduce force, Black and women officers are less likely to use force, and stricter gun laws help reduce fatal interactions with police.

The researchers said a lack of transparency and inconsistent data from police departments have made it difficult to reform agencies in the U.S., where on average, about 1,000 people are killed each year by police.

Luke Shaefer is the director of the poverty solutions team and one of the authors of the report. He said there are more guns in the U.S. than there are people, and that could explain some of the killings by police.

"This is one place where, if we're trying to see things from the perspective of police — and this doesn't have to justify many of the things that we've seen, but — that fear, that vigilance really of anyone and everyone that they encounter may have a gun does look like it drives more police shootings," he said.

Shaefer said stricter firearm policies had the most consistent relationship with reduced use of force among police.

Some of the tactics suggested in the report were requiring officers to disclose every time they remove a weapon, banning chokeholds, offering de-escalation training, and requiring officers give verbal warnings before using deadly force.

Shaefer said it also found that Black officers were often given "tougher assignments" in neighborhoods with more crime. The study said fatal shootings by officers were 50% higher in cities with white chiefs rather than Black ones.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.