Following the fatal shooting of a Chicago police officer last weekend, Fox News’ Will Cain complained that police killings of unarmed Black men receive a disproportionate amount of attention, because more police officers are killed per year than unarmed Black men.
On Saturday, August 7, three Chicago police officers were conducting a traffic stop when, police allege, one of the three passengers opened fire, injuring one officer and killing another. One of the passengers was also hit and taken to the hospital. Police currently have all three suspects in custody. According to the Chicago Police Department, “The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the incident,” and the involved officers will be placed on routine administrative duty for 30 days.
During the August 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Will Cain criticized the “national reassessment” of policing that has followed the epidemic killing of unarmed Black men by police officers. Cain implied this “reassessment” was unnecessary because more than twice as many police officers are killed in the line of duty each year, and the country tends to “overestimate” the amount of police brutality by comparison. The hosts highlighted the level of gun violence in Chicago before concluding that “if we are not safe, we need people to take care of us and those people are the police."
Cain’s strawman comparison of these two unrelated statistics is also misleading. According to a Washington Post database, 13 unarmed Black men were fatally shot by U.S. police in 2019. However, this data does not include deaths in police custody, fatal shootings by off-duty officers, and non-shooting deaths. The police murder of George Floyd, for example, would not be included in this statistic.
In reality, the officer he was discussing was the first police officer to die in the line of duty in Chicago since 2018. And while the city did cut police funding in 2020, it was only by 3%, and most of the cuts were made by eliminating already vacant positions. Furthermore, there’s little evidence to suggest that increasing police funding decreases crime, or that cutting police funding results in a crime increase. A Washington Post investigation found no evidence that police spending is correlated with crime rates.
Cain’s disingenuous comparison is based on cherry-picked evidence, and it perpetuates a persistent but false right-wing narrative that police brutality is an exaggerated issue and efforts to reform law enforcement put public safety at risk.