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2023 Sets Record High For Law Enforcement Killings In The U.S. With Increases Happening In Small Towns & Rural Areas

A CBS News investigation revealed that county sheriff's officers are three times more lethal than city police. In 2023, more people were killed by police than in any other year of the past decade, with fatalities rising faster in small-town America. The investigation highlighted chronic misconduct and oversight failures in sheriff's offices, making patterns of abuse difficult to detect and stop. Federal data showed a significantly higher death rate in sheriff's custody compared to city police.

Sheriffs' officers have become twice as deadly over the past decade, partly due to their increasing role as small police departments shut down. Sheriffs, often independently elected, face little accountability. Interviews revealed a lack of oversight and training in remote communities, leading to severe misconduct.

A notable case involved Sheriff Kevin Clardy of McCurtain County, Oklahoma, who was recorded discussing killing journalists. Despite serious allegations, Clardy remains in power. Oklahoma had the highest rate of deaths in law enforcement custody over 40 years, with many cases unreported.

Sheriff misconduct spans the U.S., with cases of abuse, fraud, and corruption documented in 46 states since 2020. Despite being primary law enforcement in 72% of rural America, sheriffs often run unopposed and remain in power for decades. Federal oversight is limited, with the DOJ filing few cases against sheriffs for civil rights violations.

"Americans are needlessly dying and are being killed while in the custody of their own government," Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff told a Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs hearing on Sept. 20, 2022. He referred to the state of local jails — the vast majority of which are overseen by sheriffs — as an "unconscionable" crisis.

Link: CBSNews


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