Zimring, Frank — When Police Kill Part One

Posted on November 21st, 2017 in American Society,Law by LeGov

This program is devoted to some of the reasons why police in the United States kill and who the dead are.

Of the 1,100 killings by police in the United States in the year 2015, 85% were a result of a fatal shooting; 95% of those victims were male.  The death rates for African Americans and Native Americans are twice their share of the population.

Our guest in this first of a two part series on why police kill, is Franklin E. Zimring a law professor at the Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California at Berkeley.  He is also the author of “When Police Kill.”

Zimring’s conclusions, based on evidence garnered from the empirical research revealed in his book show: 1) “Police use of lethal force is a very serious national problem in the United States”; 2) “Killings by police are a much larger problem in the United States than in any other developed nation, in large part because of widespread ownership and use of handguns which increase the vulnerability of police to life-threatening assault;” and 3) “Police killings are a very specific problem that can be effectively controlled without major changes in the performance or the effectiveness of police.”  This third point is the topic of part two in this series.

And, for the sake of full disclosure, Frank Zimring and I have been friends since our early years in elementary school.

Frank Zimring and I visited by phone from his office at Boalt Hall Law School in Berkeley, California on November 17, 2017.   We began our conversation when I asked him to discuss policing as a governmental function.  

Click here or on the media player below to listen.

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