By Dr. Sinclair Grey III
In a recent study published by the researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, it has been concluded that police killings have become a public health epidemic. The study entitled “Police Killings and Police Deaths Are Public Health Data and Can Be Counted” has been published in the medical journal PLOS Medicine.
Let’s face it – when one’s thinks of a public health epidemic, diseases and certain illnesses are more than likely to be the topic of discussion. Rarely would one assume that police killings would be considered a public health epidemic. Efforts surrounding the #BlackLivesMatter movement as well as what’s been happening within the criminal justice system have brought national attention to a problem that has plagued and is plaguing communities of color.
“The authors of the study noted that over the past year, there have been major controversies and civil unrest around the problem of police violence and police deaths. Meanwhile, although the deaths of police officers are counted, there is no reliable source of accounting for the killing of civilians by the police. Ironically, the most reliable data source for documenting such incidents is a British newspaper, The Guardian, whose tally of deaths by law enforcement this year—known as The Counted— was double the FBI estimate.”
Without a doubt, the killing of anyone, no matter their color and/or profession is a problem for families and communities.
According to the Atlanta Blackstar, “The Harvard study notes that the total of 842 people killed by police as of September 19, 2015, exceeded the total deaths of people due to pneumonia and influenza (585), measles (188) malaria (786 cases), and mumps (436 cases), and was comparable to number of cases of Hepatitis A nationwide (890 cases). We propose that law-enforcement–related deaths be treated as a notifiable condition, which would allow public health departments to report these data in real-time, at the local as well as national level, thereby providing data needed to understand and prevent the problem,” the authors wrote.
This study is attempting to set the precedent for eliminating killings. Because of this study, the issue of institutional racism and public health are being discussed within the same commonality.
Even with the national attention #BlackLivesMatter made, it has also faced much skepticism from the those within and outside of the African-American community. Protesters have been classified as whining about everything without take a stand on problems within their own community.
Throughout 2014 and 2015, there has much conflict between everyone involved in the movement to bring about peace, justice, and equality. “There is no indication that the war against #BlackLivesMatter will subside in the coming year, which begs the question: If police killings are a disease in which society is in denial and unwilling to treat, then how do you effectively fight that disease?”
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is a speaker, writer, author, life coach and radio/television talk show host (Tuesdays at 7pm). Contact him at www.sinclairgrey.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @drsinclairgrey