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FBI Says Justifiable Homicides Highest In More Than Decade

For whatever reason, killing people is becoming more justifiable, according to an FBI report. Is it a sign of a societal decline?

By Kevin Johnson
USA TODAY
The number of justifiable homicides committed by police and private citizens has been rising in the past two years to their highest levels in more than a decade, reflecting a shoot-first philosophy in dealing with crime, say law enforcement analysts.
The 391 killings by police that were ruled justifiable in 2007 were the most since 1994, FBI statistics show. The 254 killings by private individuals found to be self-defense were the most since 1997.
The FBI says a homicide committed by a private citizen is justified when a person is slain during the commission of a felony, such as a burglary or robbery. Police are justified, the FBI says, when felons are killed while the officer is acting in the line of duty. Rulings on these deaths are usually made by the local police agencies involved.
Some law enforcement analysts say the numbers represent changing attitudes on the streets, where police have felt more threatened by well-armed offenders, and citizens have taken greater responsibility for their own safety.
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