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(51,917 posts)
Tue May 21, 2024, 11:58 PM May 21

County sheriffs wield lethal power, face little accountability: "A failure of democracy" [View all]


County sheriff's officers are three times more lethal than city police, a CBS News investigation has found.

More people were killed by U.S. law enforcement in 2023 than any other year in the past decade, outpacing population growth eightfold. But despite a focus on urban areas, fatal police violence is increasingly happening in small town America at the hands of sheriffs, the top law enforcement officials in counties nationwide.

The revelation is part of the findings of a yearlong reporting effort that documented chronic misconduct in sheriff's offices and oversight failures that can enable abuses to go unchecked. The consequences can be fatal. But the majority of those cases go unreported, in violation of state and federal laws, making patterns of abuse harder to detect and stop.

CBS News gathered and analyzed federal law enforcement data that showed while more people died overall in encounters with city police, deaths in encounters with county sheriffs occurred at a significantly higher rate. For every 100,000 people arrested, more than 27 people died in the custody of sheriffs, while that number was fewer than 10 for police officers in 2022, the most recent year of available data.

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"We should be scrutinizing sheriff's offices as much as we are police departments," said Chiraag Bains, a former civil rights prosecutor who served as deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council until 2023. "They don't get enough scrutiny."


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