Instigator / Pro

Resolved: Law-enforcement-caused death and injury to U.S. citizens are not by epidemic proportion.


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Contender / Con

It is argued by many that Law Enforcement-caused death and injury has reached epidemic proportion, and the result is that serious changes to America [constitutional-level adjustment?] is necessary. According to definition [see below], an epidemic is any issue [not necessarily related just to health issues, such as a flu outbreak] that is currently increasing in incidents over a common, repeated period of time, such as by year [annually].

Those who argue the position that law enforcement-caused death and injury of U.S. citizens generally overstate the volume of incidents by excessive, and unspecified count of incidents; remarking only that it is occurring “all over the country.” I am declaring the pro position of the argument, that is, that incidents of police [law enforcement]-caused incidents of citizen death and injury is not epidemic, while recognizing that it does occur. I argue that the incident of the issue still requires more preventive measures, but I completely disagree with the claim that law enforcement ought to either be de-funded, or eradicated. My opponent will argue the opposing view; that serious limitations on our police forces must be enacted.

There is a general lack of reliable data from which to draw statistics, even though the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, section 210402, required the Attorney General of the United States to collect and issue an annual report of justifiable and unjustifiable law enforcement-caused deaths in the United States from all 50 states. The complete report has never been issued in 26 years apparently because the bill did not contain any enforcement measures to assure the report would be issued.


Epidemic: [Typically of a disease] Prevalent among a people or community at a special time, and produced by some special causes not generally present in the affected locality. *

Law enforcement deaths: Unjustified death caused by direct police action [by law or policy, and less so by common sense, but it may have application].

Format: Open, but no new arguments in last round; only rebuttal / defense / conclusion

*I habitually use the OED for all definitions. I recognize this dictionary as the ultimate of the English language. Unless one owns either the hard copy 20-volume set, or an online subscription [I have both] it is unavailable for reference. On my honor, I am fully quoting the definitions given.

Round 1
I welcome EricT to DART, and to this debate. Best wishes for a healthy and productive debate.

Argument I: What is an epidemic?
I.a While an epidemic is most often associated with health-related issues, society has come to refer to any incident that appears to occur with sufficient frequency, such as the subject at hand [law enforcement-caused (hereafter referred for convenience as “police”) death and injury to citizens of the United States], to call it an epidemic. As defined above, an epidemic is “…produced by some special causes not generally present in the affected locality.” In the current context, the “special cause”is the incident of police-caused death and injury. “Not generally present”may seem to be inaccurate because some element of police action causing death and injury seems to have been, and remains a consistent issue. We did not invent issue with the advent of the George Floyd death in Minnesota. However, that such incidents result in public protest, and rioting, is not new, either.
I.a.1 Even though there is no hard number [frequency] of any incident that must be achieved before an “epidemic” is declared, we should understand that it is not proper to call an epidemic unless the incident is repeated frequently enough to consider it a social problem and risk.
I.b In the United States, as of 2018, there are 19,495 incorporated cities in the United States.[1]Of them, as of 2016, 17,985 have police agencies, including city police, county sheriff’s offices, state highway patrol, and federal law enforcement agencies.[2]
I.b Of the top 100 populated incorporated cities in the U.S., the total population is 62.5M, with a total police force presence of 165,738 officers; or 0.26% of the total population, or, reflected by ratio, an average of 22.3 per 10,000 of population.[3]These stats do not mean that any city of less than 205,000 [happens to be Boise, ID, the 100thmost populated city in the U.S.] does not have any police force presence; just that under the 205K threshold, no city ranks a police force in the scale of the top 100 cities. The top 100, however, will adequately represent the distributed total population of the U.S.
I.c As of 2018, 127M people [39%] occupy cities of greater than 50,000 in population. Ten total cities have populations greater than 1M, and none are greater than 10M.[4]There is a general trend of populations migrating to urban centers.[5]
I.d During the period of 2005 to 2012 [8 years], a total of 1,552 police-caused homicides occurred in 16 states, according to the National Violent Death Reporting System.[6]The grand average of these deaths is 194 deaths per year. Extrapolated to all 50 states [not a statistically accurate calculation, but it will do for our purposes], that amounts to 606.25 unjustified deaths per year caused by police officers [(194 ÷ 16) x 50 = 606.25].
I.e 606 deaths, then, is our established average annual police-caused death count. The resulting percentage of the population is 0.000185%. Does this number, 606, or the referenced percentage, represent an epidemic?
I.f According to the National Violent Death Reporting System, annually, “approximately 100,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for nonfatal injuries inflicted by law enforcement officers.”[7]That amounts to 0.03% of the U.S. population. Does this represent an epidemic?
Argument II: Comparable statistics
II.a The numbers referenced above in I.d, I.e and I.f might be compared to the numbers of deaths, and affected, but cured patients contracting Covid-19 just this year: total deaths 110,925, total cases 1,956,421 [as of June 9]. That is 0.034% of the U.S. population by death, and 0.59% of the population in total cases. The total number of cases, and the number of deaths caused by Covid-19 far exceed the numbers of deaths and injuries caused by police in a single year. If the Covid-19 is an epidemic, are much lower numbers of deaths by unjustified police action also an epidemic? The ratio is 183:1 [Covid-19:Police deaths]. For nonfatal injuries, the ratio is 19.56:1 [Covi-19:Police injuries].
II.a.1 It may be argued that the police non-fatal injuries might be an epidemic, but I will declare that no one is marching in the streets protesting, destroying property and looting over injuries. And considering the count of property loss, and owner/employee loss of jobs, one might wonder whether these incidents, and not the police-caused death of George Floyd represent a greater epidemic than police action resulting in death. I do not mean to put a dollar value of human life compared to property loss, but as we are dealing in numbers to either declare an epidemic police action flaw in the system, the numbers do not add up to calling this issue an epidemic.
II.b Or, we can compare deaths in the U.S. due to road and highway accidents, which just due to driver distraction, let alone other causes, result in 9 deaths per day, or, in one year, 3,285 deaths, more than unjustified police action-caused deaths by a factor of over 5:1.  Are we to totally revise our roads and highway driving; perhaps eliminate all cars, as in being suggested by some radicals to eliminate police forces? 
III Argument: An issue needing reform, but not an epidemic needing clearing the deck 
III.a If any of the above stats related to police-caused unjustified death and injury were 5%, or even as low as 1% of our U.S. population, the argument that this issue is a legitimate epidemic might have justified definition. Since the numbers in either death [see I.e] or hospitalizing injury [see I.f] do not exceed 0.03%, just one-third of the more critical expectation of 1%, initiating actions such as suggested above in Full Description, i.e. “law enforcement ought to either be de-funded, or eradicated” is absurd.
III.a.1 According to Vox, In terms of the intersection of criminal justice policy and racial politics, new polling provided exclusively to Vox from the leading Democratic data firm Civis Analytics shows that black voters — just like white ones — support the idea of hiring more police officers. Black voters are likely aware that they are disproportionately likely to be victims of crime and disproportionately likely to benefit from extra police staffing in high-crime areas.”[8]
Further, the same source indicated, “In a 2005 paper, Jonathan Glick and Alex Tabarrok found a clever instrument to measure the effects of officer increases through the terrorism “alert levels” that were a feature of the early to mid-aughts. During high-alert periods, the Washington, DC, police force would mobilize extra officers, especially in and around the capital’s core, centered on the National Mall. Using daily crime data, they found that the level of crime decreased significantly on high-alert days, and the decrease was especially concentrated on the National Mall.”[9]
I rest my arguments for round 1.
*I habitually use the OED for all definitions. I recognize this dictionary as the ultimate of the English language. Unless one owns either the hard copy 20-volume set, or an online subscription [I have both] it is unavailable for reference. On my honor, I am fully quoting the definitions given.”

There are black men being killed and harassed by police officers every day. They are our brothers, neighbors, friends, even family to some. Imagine not doing whatever you can to help them. You RACIST, EVIL, ANTI-BLACK MONSTER. I support blm and I will do whatever it takes to help out my black brothers

Note: I am not black
Round 2
I.a Well, my opponent has chosen of his own free will, with no compulsion on my part, to turn the debate into a slur of genetic imprint of such small consequence of humanity as to belittle us all. I will not offer his emphatic statement by quoting it in its entirety. Further, I challenge my opponent to show me, from my entire round 1 arguments, where I made any reference to race at all in my words. Never mind, I shall reveal it, myself. Any reference to race, “black” specifically, since my opponent, himself, refers to it in his words, by me is given only in three instances of the word being mentioned twice in quoting sources, and once in a direct source reference, to wit: 
[1] & [2] a quote given in my round 1, argument III.a.1, from Vox,referring to “black voters” on two occasions in the quote. Nothing in the quote lends nuance to derogatory reference at all.
[3] My round 1, reference #4: Debusmann, Bernd (October–November 2016). "The race problem in black and white"The World TodayChatham House. As my opponent declares, “Note: I am not black,”in conjunction with his accusation toward Pro, personally, who chooses to avoid declaration of race as being irrelevant to any subject of debate or forum discussion on this site], his vindictive “rebuttal” would clearly indicate there is racial tension held by some as the source declares.
In fact, “race” is mentioned but once, and that occasion is in the [3] immediately above, within the title of the article.

I will remind Con of my beginning salutation and hope that began my round 1 argument, "I welcome EricT to DART, and to this debate. Best wishes for a healthy and productive debate."  I consider the reply in Con's round 1 to be a complete dismissal of this hope. 
I.a.1 As I made no reference whatsoever to any racial consideration in either argument [I and II] in my round 1, I declare my opponent’s entire round 1 argument as a failure, not to mention its containing an obvious violation of conduct according to DART Code of Conduct,to wit: “By using, you are bound and agree to be bound by this Code of Conduct,”and “Targeted harassment of any member prohibited,”and “Unwarranted systemic vulgarity and invectives, which may include off topic personal attacks and/or hate speech, are subject to disciplinary actions.”[1]  My opponent is expected to have read the Code of Conduct,and has indicated such by his membership, however recent that may have been. I, personally, will not tolerate it and insist upon my opponent’s apology before any further argument in this debate, and suggest he cease and desist any further such language in the future. No one deserves to be the target of vitriole.
I.a.2 As a result of Con’s objectionable language in round 1, I officially request immediate sanction by moderator as they deem appropriate.
II Delay of argument
II.a To allow my opponent to settle his conflict, I will defer further argument to rounds 3 and 4, and close with just the rebuttal of my opponent’s round 1 “argument.”

i concede
Round 3
Extend argument. Consideration given to Con's concession. I will offer a conclusion in round 4
Round 4
My opponent conceded the debate in his round 2 with no further argument presented than his racial accusation in round 1, which I consider a non-argument, but rather, the last desperate effort of a complete lack of argument by hurling personal attack. I accept that behavior exists in some, and this debate has, unfortunately, attracted just such a type. So be it. They exist, have always existed, and always will.
Nevertheless, I had further argument in mind, and I will explain it now:
I Argument: “Vice is a monster”
I.a Alexander Pope offered us a scintillating example of human behavior in his Essay on Man. Quoting a portion of it, very familiar to some, perhaps new to some:
"Vice is a monster of so frightful mein,
As, to be hated needs but to be seen; 
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, 
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."[1]
We might be convinced that Pope’s words inspired by this 19th century poet were responsible for another commentary we know well: “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  However, as is usual with people who ignore history, it was, in fact, this latter phrase that occurred first, centuries before Alexander Pope, by one of the first landmark writers of the English language: Geoffrey Chaucer of the 14th century. Both phrases expose the vile human flaw so vulgarly expressed by my opponent’s first round: contempt for one another, which psychologists often diagnose as first contempt, or, rather, envy, anger, and hubris for one’s self.[2] The referenced article contains the results of a study reported in the August 2017 issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:  Among the study's findings were that dispositional contempt was highly associated with dispositional envy, anger, and hubristic (inflated) pride. Since envy tends to be a response to the accomplishments of others, and hubristic pride is related to one's own perceived superiority, the researchers interpreted these links as suggesting that contemptuous people may be more sensitive to social evaluation and status.”[3] 
I.b Such personal feelings, brought on by the comparison of self with society, when the self is considered less than adequate in society, produces these feelings of envy, anger, and hubris, yielding contempt. In other words, the accusation made of another being racist is expressed to hide, by contempt, the racist tendencies of one’s self. Chaucer’s original familiarity breeding contempt grew into a further understanding by Pope of a progression of emotions: endurance, pity, and then full embrace.  A monstrous condition, indeed, when directed improperly.
I.c And, exemplary of Pope’s attitude, is Oscar Wilde’s 1890 novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which features the title character’s curious habit of being, outwardly, a gentleman of repute who, inwardly, was a caricature of the very seeds of contempt: envy, anger, and hubris. While Gray appeared somehow timeless as he aged, remaining a handsome sort, a portrait painted of Gray that he kept hidden in a locked room self-denigrated and devolved into Pope’s disgusting monster.
I.d Dorian Gray is a classic literary type. We can look to Oedipus, whose eyes he gouged out himself for the self-contempt of laying with his mother, or Hamlet, around whom virtually everyone dies, including Hamlet, or even the Joker of Batman fame, who, like Dorian, wears a mask as he denigrates society out of self-loathing.
I.e Once understood, the type that expresses contempt for others is on a path of self-destruction. This is not just literature, because literature is, on the whole, a mirror to society. It is why we [socially] are so familiar with these types. As Pogo, the comic strip character by Walt Kelly, once quipped, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”[4]  What may be less familiar is that Walt Kelly was offering a parody of historic fact. In 1813, after the United States defeated Great Britain’s Royal Navy in the Battle of Lake Erie, naval officer Oliver Hazard Perry sent a victorious message to HQ: “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”[5]  Kelly acknowledged his phrase as a parody of Perry’s.
Pogo’s parody is a biting commentary of our own weaknesses. Some, many, are able to overcome them, at least with regard to racism, which is only self-contempt. After all, the discrimination some feel toward others is absurdly skin-deep, literally. It is that shallow. Embraced, it makes monsters of us. Shunned, it makes angels of us. That should not be a difficult distinction to make, and practice, and, in time, perfect such that all around us are celebrated for our diversity, not denigrated for it.
I.f Were we to enable ourselves to embrace, not vice, but virtue, who would then be inclined to murder our law enforcement officers because we accuse them of murdering us? In my observation, for example, I find the murder of George Floyd to have been an obvious, and better yet, on camera exposition of man’s cruelty to man in Minneapolis, in this case, a policeman’s knee at the neck of another man already subdued and in handcuffs; tortured unto death, entirely unjustified and the perfect graphic example of the subject of this debate. However, contrast that death with the one in Atlanta just two weeks later, when police shot a man. Some who are contemptuous of police in general wraps the two in the same package. However, the Atlanta incident is also on camera, and the full video exposes a flaw in the contempt: Rayshard Brooks failed a sobriety test. The police justly apprehended him and attempted to apply handcuffs per procedure. Brooks fought with police to prevent his apprehension, wrestled a taser from one officer, and ran from them. When they gave chase, Brooks turned and fired the taser. He was shot in response. The pursuant action by police was by training and policy. Simply put, resisting arrest is illegal. The time for a due process fight for rights is not at the time of arrest. Arresting a suspect is legal. That is the law. Violate the law; expect a response.
I conclude my argument in this debate. As my opponent has conceded, and, by his actions in this debate, and other issues, has been banned from DebateArt. He is done. I ask for your vote, but also declare victory. Thank you.