Here’s an idea, do exactly what the cops tell you to do when and how they tell you to do it. Maybe, just maybe, you won’t get shot.

Shooting deaths by Minnesota police highest on record
By Mara H. Gottfried, St. Paul Pioneer Press Today at 9:11 a.m.

ST. PAUL — The fatal shooting of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer brought international attention to Minnesota and comes during a record year for police-involved fatalities in the state.
Police officers have fatally shot 13 people this year, the most since the state began keeping records 38 years ago. The previous high was 12 deaths, in both 2010 and 2015.
Since 1995, officers have killed at least 151 people — almost seven per year, according to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension records and Pioneer Press research. More than half of those fatalities — 81 — are in the last eight years. Each year since 2009, there have been between seven and 13 fatalities involving police.

Dennis Flaherty, who heads the largest association representing officers in Minnesota, believes officers face more dangerous situations.
“I think there’s just too many people out there that have firearms when they commit crimes — they have a total disregard for life or public safety, and they’re willing to use their guns,” said Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.
This year, around the country, officers faced instances of ambush shootings, making it a particularly dangerous year.
In Minnesota, a growing number of assaults against police officers have coincided with the increase in fatal shootings by police. Officers have been assaulted more than 300 times each year since 2011, according to BCA data. In previous years, the average was less than 200.
At the same time, however, violent crime and weapons offenses, such as illegal gun possession or concealment, generally have declined in the last decade. Last year was an exception, with weapons crimes at their highest point in nine years.
Chris Burbank, director for law enforcement engagement at the Center for Policing Equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the question of a correlation between assaults on officers and use of force by police is not simple.
“You have to look and say ‘Is that a chicken-and-egg comparison?’ ” said Burbank. “Is it because of these interactions that you’re getting more assaults on officers or more officer use of force?”
Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Twin Cities organization, has been researching cases of police-involved fatalities — not only those involving shootings — in Minnesota since 2000. They write the names of those killed on a “Stolen Lives” scroll that’s more than 30 feet long, but they’ve run out of room and will be adding a 15-foot extension, said Michelle Gross, the group’s president.
“It’s important for people to understand that real people’s lives are affected by police misconduct,” Gross said. “People don’t often have an idea of how significant this issue is.”
Gross stresses that her group doesn’t believe all killings by police are unjustified. But “we think that far fewer are justified than what the police departments and the various investigations claim are justified.”
Earlier this month, when the Ramsey County attorney charged officer Jeronimo Yanez with manslaughter in the shooting of Castile, it marked the first time in recent memory that an officer was charged in such an incident in Minnesota.
People have theories about why officer-involved shootings are up in Minnesota.
Larry Brubaker, a retired FBI agent who worked in the Twin Cities, has tracked fatal shootings by police in Minnesota since 1981 and written two books about them.
Like Flaherty, he believes officers are facing more guns on the streets.
“People don’t want to talk things out,” he said. “I know this sounds trite, but when officers are saying: ‘Let me see your hands. Stop, don’t come any closer,’ if people would only comply with these orders, I think there would be less shootings.”
Gross isn’t positive what’s driving the increase in fatal police shootings, but she says it’s not violent crime.
“We’re in a slump for violent crime, so it’s hard to imagine why more people are being killed by police when violent crime rates are going down,” she said. “I don’t know if some of it is the empowerment in this culture of allowing police to use excessive force with impunity also bleeds into more killings by police.”
But Flaherty said officers these days receive even more training in alternatives to using a weapon.
“In the last few years, there’s been a greater push for providing officers a skill set, including de-escalation skills, that hopefully may prevent them having to use their gun,” said Flaherty. He noted another common scenario officers face are confrontations with people who are having a mental crisis.
Nationally, the trend of police-involved shootings has varied, said Burbank of the Center for Policing Equity.
“You’ve got some places that are up, some places that are down,” he said. “At the end of the year, when you take them all and put them together, I don’t think that we’re going to have drastically more shootings than we did the year over.”
But Burbank said it’s a mistake to examine the numbers alone.
“Looking strictly at ‘How many did we have?’ gives the false impression that, well, if it’s lower than it was last year then that’s good and if it’s higher, then that’s bad,” said Burbank, who’s also a retired Salt Lake City police chief. “But any loss of life is significant and not good. That represents a failure of policing and of our society.”
The Center for Policing Equity is collecting data from about 170 law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including ones in Minnesota. They’ll conduct an in-depth analysis for each agency, which will include studying the underlying causes of uses of force and “the inherent bias in organizations and employees that work there,” Burbank said.
“What we can say about officer-involved shootings is masculinity plays into them, lack of experience plays into them,” said Burbank. The center is examining the cases more, especially the role of racial disparities.
There is not an official database of fatal police shootings in Minnesota, but the BCA records information about officers discharging their firearms in annual reports. The report that contains information about 2016 cases won’t be published until halfway through next year.
A Pioneer Press analysis in 2015 found four fatal police shootings in the past decade that were not recorded in the BCA records as fatalities, so the statistics in this article are based on BCA records and Pioneer Press research, including about the cases for 2016.

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