Ethnically diverse middle-aged men most common victims of fatal police actions
Ethically diverse middle-aged men were overrepresented in police actions that resulted in death over the past year. The victims also often displayed disturbed behavior. These are some of the conclusions of a scientific study into fifty fatal police shootings between 2016 and 2020 conducted by Bureau Beke.
The investigation into "patterns, context, and victims of police incidents with a fatal outcome" was commissioned by the police and Rjksrecherche, the department that handles internal investigations at government services like the police. The goal was "to gain more insight into these profound events." Every year an average of ten people die in police actions. This concerns people who, for example, die in a police cell, after drinking or drug use, after the police used force, or after a chase.
The investigation into the 50 cases, which the Rijksrecherche made available anonymously, revealed that ethically diverse men between 30 and 50 were overrepresented. In 84 percent of the cases, the victim showed disturbed behavior. In 84 percent of the cases, they suffered from multiple problems like mental health issues, financial issues, relationship problems, or drug use.
Most deaths resulted from "the use of force," 34 of the 50 cases. Eight people died as a result of self-destructive behavior, others because they became unwell or were hurt in an accident.
More research is needed to explain why ethically diverse men are overrepresented among the victims, said Amsterdam police chief and the person in charge of the police brutality folder Frank Paauw to the Volkskrant. "It could well be that police sociologist Jaap Timmer is right because these kinds of cases often take place in neighborhoods where more people from lower socio-economic classes live and more people with a migration background."
Paauw is convinced that the use of electroshock weapons will result in fewer fatal incidents. In 18 of the investigated cases, the police fired gunshots. The police chief told the newspaper that he knows several samples in which the electric shock weapon would have been a good alternative. The electroshock weapon has been part of police officers' gear since the beginning of this year.
According to the researchers, the study of police incidents with a fatal outcome is unique. The police say they want to use the results to better involve emergency services in an incident, both before and during that incident. Information must also be better utilized beforehand, and the police want to invest in training police officers in dealing with people showing disturbed behavior.
Reporting by ANP