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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recent rash of police shootings nationwide

A recent rash of police shootings nationwide? 

So says CNN.

In the book I show that stories about crime and criminal justice rarely offer important context. That is, they typically fail to show the important details needed to give the story meaning.

Here is an example of the opposite. Even the headline offers context:

"Dangers real, but deaths increasingly rare for police officers."

Exactly. It is a dangerous job. But officers are rarely killed on the job.

As noted in the article: "Police shootings are very, very rare events in this country," said Peter Manning, a professor at Northeastern University's College of Criminal Justice. "When they happen together (like this week), it's even rarer."

With this context -- if the news and entertainment media just showed cops being killed -- we'd all carry around misconceptions of the realities of police work.

Kudos to CNN for providing this context.

As for me this one hits way too close to home. Two officers in my hometown of St. Pete slaughtered in an ambush. It's a horribly sad day.

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