Earlier this month, New Mexico State Police officers shot and killed Rodney Applewhite, a 25-year-old Black man, during an attempted traffic stop in Los Lunas, New Mexico. According to Searchlight New Mexico, Applewhite was on his way to Arizona to visit his mother for Thanksgiving when he was pulled over. Police fired at Jones, who was unarmed, after an alleged pursuit and “altercation,” and he died later that day. Applewhite’s mother, Katrina Cox, said she did not find out about her son’s death until nine hours after the incident and has yet to receive any further details about the shooting, according to activists who are calling for an independent investigation and transparency.
Data from Mapping Police Violence shows that between 2013 and 2019, 136 people were fatally shot by police in New Mexico. Black people in the United States are nearly three times more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and most people killed by police are killed with guns.
Research suggests that implementing specific use-of-force policies can save lives. One 2016 study of 91 large police departments found that the adoption of use-of-force reform policies was associated with fewer police-involved killings. Other policies in the study include de-escalation by ensuring that other means are considered prior to shooting, prohibiting chokeholds, requiring a duty to intervene, warning before shooting, and restrictions on shootings at moving vehicles.
Meaningful use of force policies encourage de-escalation, utilize early intervention systems, and ensure that officers who break the law are held accountable. Use of force policies like these help advance safety and promote trust in the police.