At this pace, the number of officer-involved shootings in Georgia for 2018 is on track to be double the number in 2017. So far, the number of fatalities is up to 20.
Through May 8, this year 20 people have been shot and killed by police in the state. Overall this year, there have been 34 officer-involved shootings.
At this same point in 2017, 12 people died out of 31 officer-involved shootings. By the end of the year there were 30 deaths from police shootings, fairly consistent with the totals this decade.
I think, yes, we should be concerned.
We live in an age of highly publicized mass murder. The world overall has grown less violent, with both homicide and war casualties in decline worldwide, but murder-as-protest, or murder-as-temper-tantrum, is something relatively new and particular to our age of instantaneous mass communication. It’s the new suicide. “Goodbye, cruel world . . . and I’m taking some of you bastards with me.”
For every maladjusted freak who fantasizes about achieving fame through mass murder, several more simply decide to die by police. Point a gun at an officer, or take one out in anger while an off duty cop is near, and these people are likely to get their wish.
We should be thankful that officers are around to deal with potentially deadly situations, and put their own lives on the line to defend us, whether they are on duty or just buying a cup of coffee. (They're never really off duty, are they?)
But why such a massive increase, not just in Georgia, but to a smaller degree, all over the country?
We can start with the drug problem.
“Opioids will kill you. Meth will make you want to kill someone,” said [GBI Director Vernon] Keenan, who also cited criminal possession of firearms and poor mental health as drivers to violent confrontations with police.
Criminals obtaining guns--which no number of laws restricting the legal transfer or sale of guns can stop--and not dealing properly with the mentally ill make a witches brew that too often ends in tragedy.
Georgia is a particularly "law and order" state where some officers have a culture of fighting thuggishness with thuggishness. Just recently, in Alpharetta, an officer resigned after mistreating a 65-year-old woman during a traffic stop.
This happened two months after two Gwinnett County officers were fired for punching and kicking a 21-year-old man in the head. Unlike some who want to make racial grist for the grinder, I don't think these cases are necessarily racially motivated.
However, that doesn't mean race had nothing at all to do with it. When white officers abuse blacks, who legitimately become victims, it simply adds to the spiral of escalation. And that makes it easier for officers to go for their guns when they feel their lives are threatened.
For the record, police lives are indeed threatened. In the past two months, two Henry County deputies were shot, one killed (with his wife in labor), serving a warrant at a home. A Centerville police officer (in central Georgia) was shot and the shooter then barricaded himself inside his home.
Suicide by cop needs to be dealt with at the source before this problem leads to more carnage. But none of us should be surprised if police are more aggressive in their resorting to deadly force. This escalation isn't only in Georgia, and really indicates a level of uncivilized behavior around the nation.
This is a problem we should all be concerned about.