Tennessee Report - On Friday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a comprehensive study detailing law enforcement-related deaths that occurred in the state in calendar year 2022. Data has been divided into three categories: Deadly Use-of-Force Incidents, Arrest-Related Non-Forcible Deaths, and Deaths in Custody.
During the previous year, a total of 69 agencies reported a “Law Enforcement Related Death.” Sadly, some agencies in the state reported multiple events, while no deaths were reported by college or university law enforcement agencies last year. Of the reports on file with the TBI, there were 41 deaths of officers or staff members in jails and prisons, 12 deaths reported by police departments, 14 deaths in sheriff’s departments and 2 deaths reported by state agencies.
Another facet of data collected in the study focused on the circumstance in which contact was made with the decedent. In 2022, the most commonly reported initial contact type was the response to unlawful or suspicious activity, followed by traffic stops.
Among the report’s findings:
- In 2022, a total of 28 deadly use-of-force incidents occurred in the state, with five incidents reported in both April and December.
- Six of the reported deadly use-of-force incidents occurred in a residence. Nineteen were reported to have occurred in a highway, road, alley, sidewalk, or street.
- White subjects accounted for 60.71% of those killed in deadly use-of-force incidents. Black/African-American subjects accounted for 35.71%.
“In-Custody” Deaths - In addition to reports of law enforcement deaths, the TBI calculated the number of persons who died while in custody of law enforcement, which is part of the “Deaths in Custody Reporting Act.” Keep in mind, the data is not complete because private prison companies are under no obligation to submit data, which means deaths of inmates occurring in private facilities may not be reflected in the report.
There were 244 deaths reported in 41-different correctional facilities. The highest number of those deaths were reported in February followed by the month of December. Of the 244 “in custody” deaths, 228 of the subjects were male and only 16 were female.
By reviewing data by age, those in the age group of 35 to 44 accounted for the highest number of in custody deaths, followed by the age group of 25 to 34, which tied with those in the 55 to 64 age group – both coming in second. The age group with the third highest number of deaths were those in the 45 to 54-year-old age bracket.
In looking at the race of the “in custody” deaths, whites outnumbered both blacks and those with an unknown race by more than double. In fact, those who were classified as white accounted for 67.21% of reported deaths, blacks accounted for 31.15% of in custody deaths, while the remaining 1.64% were categorized as unknown.
The report, released in accordance with the requirements in Tennessee Code Annotated §38-10-102, uses established definitions and methodology and provides information qualifying incidents submitted by the state’s law enforcement agencies. The full report is available for review on TBI’s website, at tbi.pub/reports.