Research and Impact

Study shows state of Ohio is below national average in fatal police shootings

A new data analysis by the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health shows that Ohio has a lower ratio of deaths related to police intervention than the national average.

The data, extracted from the Washington Post’s Police Shootings Database, showed that from 2015 through 2020, Ohio averaged 2.4 deaths per 1 million residents, 35th in the nation and below the national average of 2.99.

“Our nation and state remain gripped in a conversation about how law enforcement can best protect the lives of everyone involved while responding to potentially dangerous situations, and these data are designed to further inform that conversation,” said Rick Hodges, director of the Alliance. “The data show that Ohio has remained below the national average over the past five years, but still show a disturbing trend toward higher rates of violence toward African-Americans.”

The data also showed that the rate of deaths in Ohio among African-Americans is 339 percent higher (6.96 per 1 million residents) than those among white Americans (1.59 per 1 million residents).

Ohio’s most populous counties had mixed results. Out of the 100 most populous counties in the nation, Franklin County had the 18th-highest rate of fatalities per 1 million residents, while Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties ranked 56th and 61st, respectively.

Franklin County’s rate of 4.81 deaths per million is well above the national rate of 2.99, while Cuyahoga (2.29) and Hamilton (2.04) were below the national average. Montgomery County (4.70) and Summit County (3.39) also exceeded the national average.

Franklin County, home to 20 percent of Ohio’s Black population, accounted for 33 percent of police-intervention fatalities among African-Americans. Cuyahoga County, home to 25 percent of the state’s Black population, accounted for 16 percent of the fatalities, while Hamilton County (home to 14 percent) accounted for 11 percent.

“There is obviously no easy solution to reducing police-involved shooting fatalities,” said Alliance research lead Orman Hall. “Our hope is that the findings of this study can help law enforcement agencies analyze their own policies and determine whether they can be amended to reduce the loss of life while protecting the safety of officers and citizens alike.”

The data also showed that non-urban areas nationally had a slightly higher rate of police-intervention-related fatalities than urban areas. Rural and suburban areas averaged 2.99 deaths per million residents, while the national average was 2.97 per million residents.

The full study is available on the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health’s website. Past projects have focused on statistics surrounding suicide, years of life lost to opioid overdoses, and diseases of despair, among other topics.

February 23, 2021
Staff reports