Letter misleading about police brutality


Youngstown police Chief Robin Lees was right to be miffed by the letter signed by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan addressed to Attorney General William Barr. Ryan’s letter claims, “Police brutality and violence is now a leading cause of death among young men, particularly black men …”

The problem is, the data in the study cited by Ryan contradicts that claim. The study makes clear that most deaths in young men come from other, well-known causes. Those include accidents, suicides, other homicides (imagine a weekend in Chicago), heart disease and cancer. Even assuming the data, modeling and analysis of the study is correct, the report shows that police violence is the least likely cause of death. The study used a data set that included all manners of death during a police encounter, including suicides, fleeing in a vehicle leading to fatal crash, etc., which biases the statistics in the most negative way toward police.

Other statistics demonstrate that bad encounters with police are exceedingly rare. The death of George Floyd reminds us that even one avoidable death during an arrest is intolerable and police must be held to a high standard.

Ryan’s letter is nothing more than a political stunt and does a great disservice to the men and women of law enforcement — 130 of which who have died in the line of duty so far this year.




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