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Hey, USA: No-one Shot Dead by Dutch Police in 2014

It is a statistic that every police department and concerned citizen in America should be paying close attention to: last year in the Netherlands, a nation with a racially and ethnically diverse population of 17 million, a large immigrant population and the same assortment of social problems as any other modern country, the police force managed to shot dead a grand total of zero citizens. They also managed to resist the temptation to shot tourists, even those annoying stag parties from the UK.

By contrast, the United States does not even keep an official record of how many civilians are killed each year by Police officers. Jim Fisher, a former FBI agent and criminal justice professor, scoured newspaper reports during 2011 to unearth 607 fatal shootings by police in that year. That number has risen each year since, according to a variety of citizens’ right groups that have sprung up, with the website Killed by Police collaborating with volunteer throughout the nation to identify over a thousand fatal police shootings in both 2013 and 2014.

This escalation in the use of lethal force now seems to have provoked a backlash, with controversy surrounding many deaths last year, most notably with the shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, igniting street protests and a prolonged stand-off with the police and state authorities.

Part of the Dutch secret recipe that makes this absence state-inflicted slaughter possible is paperwork: by law, every serious shooting incident involving the Dutch police is formally investigated. The stated purpose of this law is to “ensure public trust in the police service“, something that is hard to imagine ever happening in the United States but, perhaps, as the situation continues to deteriorate, it should.


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