Black men in America are 2.5 times more likely to be the victims of fatal police force than white men, a new study reveals.
According to the study, which was published in the journal PNAS, police violence is the sixth leading cause of death among young men between the ages of 25 and 29.
Additionally, the study found American Indian and Alaskan Native women are 1.5 times more likely to be killed than white and Black women, while Latina women and Asian/Pacific Islanders are less likely to be killed than white women.
Frank Edwards, who co-authored the study and is the assistant professor at the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, told Newsweek this data means police brutality should be treated as a public health crisis.
"Police violence should be taken seriously as a public health issue. Policing is contributing to early death both through the use of fatal force, and through aggressive tactics that have been found to have severe negative effects on the physical and mental health of people of color who live in over-policed communities,” Edwards said.
"If we recognize that using the police to respond to a problem comes with a significant risk of death, it encourages us to think about solutions to problems like mental health and substance abuse that do not rely on police. Adequately funding community-based services outside of the criminal justice system would be a strong start and is firmly in line with treating the underlying problems police respond to as public health and social issues, rather than criminal issues,” he added.
Rory Kramer, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Villanova University, who did not work on the research, told Newsweek while excessive force by police should be treated as a public health issue, it also reflects "a political decision we have made as a society, a historical fact in the United States for generations, a sociological structure of society, and an economic inefficiency amongst others.
"There is no need to frame it as only one or another thing,” Kramer said. "It is also a public safety problem, a political issue, a racial inequality, a gender inequality, an economic inequality, and a moral crisis."
Kramer went on to say how police violence also affects the way in which people of color interact with law enforcement.
Research shows a vicious feedback loop through which police brutality lowers community trust in police, especially amongst people of color.
"Police who believe people view them as illegitimate are more likely to advocate for and use excessive force. Police who use excessive force influence the behavior of other police with whom they work. This leads to further police violence and further lowers community trust in police and the problem only grows,” he told Newsweek.