What The Police Actually Do Differs From Public Perceptions

Lights on top of police squad car
William Anderson
August 6, 2020

Lie #1: Police Are Fighting Violent Crime  

Officers spend much of their time handling routine tasks like calls and traffic. Only a small fraction of officers’ time is devoted to violent crime. A Vera Institute report shows arrests are made every 3 seconds, but less than 5% are for violent crime. 

Lie #2: Police Are Actually Solving Crimes 

Clearance rates indicate how frequently cops solve crime, but in cities like Chicago these rates are incredibly low when it comes to Black people. Police have gotten caught lying about their clearance rates and framing Black people, too. Race often dictates whether a crime will be solved.

Lie #3: Police Protect The Vulnerable

Police regularly target and brutalize Black children. Hundreds of officers committed rape and sexual assaults between 2005 and 2013, averaging 45 a year, based on victims who decided to come forward - but most don’t. Authorities rarely address sexual violence or test the MASSIVE backlog of “rape kits.

Lie #4: Police Serve Their Community 

Most police are not from the communities they’re supposed to serve. This is true in almost two-thirds of the US cities with the largest police forces. Police are often more like occupying forces than the friendly neighbors people may think.

Lie #5: Policing Works 

Like prisons and jails, police often cause the Black community more harm than help. They limit extremely important community resources with hugely-inflated budgets. A better use of the money? Fixing poverty, education, healthcare, and unemployment, which actually prevents crime!

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