122 Nancy Krieger - Police Involved Killings Are Public Health Data

Show Notes - #122 Nancy Krieger - Police Involved Killings are Public Health Data

Michael Brown, Mario Woods, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray.  We can sadly go on.

These are names burned into American consciousness - all dead - all involved in encounters with law enforcement.  We’ve spent a number episodes talking about the epidemic of shootings in the US.  And we get to a point on the data related to these shootings - often very unsatisfying when we talk about tracking.

Last year, the UK newspaper the Guardian started a project called the Counted, a first of its kind database for tracking law enforcement involved deaths in the US. In 2015, they identified 1140 killed, with rates per million of 2.92 for “white” people, 7.2 for “black”, and 3.5 for “hispanic/latino”, 1.34 for “Asian/Pacific Islander”, and 3.4 for “Native American”.  

I’m not here to pass judgement on right or wrong in these cases -  but its bizarre that we have no governmental system from tracking these deaths.

Last month, Dr. Nancy Krieger made a proposal to change that. She’s a Professor of Social Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research focuses on how people’s health can be influenced by the conditions in which they are born, live and work, including how economic policies and systems, even social norms, can affect health. She recently released a paper in PLoS summarizing data from 8 cities on law enforcement involved deaths going back to 1960 and ended with an idea - let’s track these deaths as public health data.