WHEREAS,  the Center for Disease Control reports that fatalities from use of lethal force by on-duty law enforcement are disproportionately black, with a fatality rate 2.8 times higher than whites, and 

WHEREAS,  people with disabilities and other historically marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrants, and those experiencing homelessness are significantly more likely to be criminalized and targets of police violence2, and

WHEREAS,  between 2013 and 2019, 99% of killings by police did not result in officers being charged with a crime3, and

WHEREAS,  several investigations by the Department of Justice have concluded that police departments practice violent policing with hyper surveillance, harassment, and excessive use of force4, and

WHEREAS,    persons who experience high levels of discrimination have a 21% increased risk of death compared to those at the 50th percentile, after adjustment for age, gender, race, and lifetime socioeconomic status6, and

WHEREAS,  those who had experienced negative encounters with police had higher levels of mistrust of the healthcare system when compared to those who had not experienced such encounters7, and   

RESOLVED, the Medical Society of Virginia supports efforts to eliminate instances of police brutality, as well as improve oversight and independent investigations to hold individual law enforcement officers and police departments accountable, and

RESOLVED, the Medical Society of Virginia supports investments in public health research and community-based safety initiatives that are proven to reduce the disparate impact of police brutality and use of force on the historically marginalized.

1. DeGue, S., Fowler, K. A., & Calkins, C. (2016). Deaths Due to Use of Lethal Force by Law Enforcement. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 51(5), S173–S187. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2016.08.027

2. New York City Anti-Violence Project, Hate Violence Against Transgender Communities Fact Sheet (May 28, 2020) https://avp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ncavp_transhvfactsheet.pdf

3. “Mapping Police Violence,” (May 28, 2020), https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

4 Moughty, S. (2011, September 20). 17 Justice Dept. Investigations Into Police Departments Nationwide. Retrieved from https://perma.cc/X94C-A5U2

5 Alang S. M. (2019). Mental health care among blacks in America: Confronting racism and constructing solutions. Health services research, 54(2), 346–355. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6773.13115

6 Barnes, L. L., de Leon, C. F. M., Lewis, T. T., Bienias, J. L., Wilson, R. S., & Evans, D. A. (2008). Perceived Discrimination and Mortality in a Population-Based Study of Older Adults. American Journal of Public Health, 98(7), 1241–1247. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2007.114397

7  Alang, S. , McAlpine, D. , McCreedy, E. , & Hardeman, R. (2017). Police brutality and Black health: Setting the agenda for public health scholars. American Journal of Public Health, 107(5), 662–665. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.303691

7 replies
  1. msv30330
    msv30330 says:

    Not adopt

    My issue with this resolution is that it is based on a false media construct.

    Statistics cited are most likely accurate, but misleading when out of context.

    If one were to ask a random contingent of citizens the following: If you were to draw a weapon on police officers, what would you expect the outcome to be?  I believe that the overwhelming majority would reply “they would shoot me”.

    Of the few fatal shootings of “unarmed” minorities, almost half of those were in a car trying to run down the officer, but still considered unarmed.

    As a midwest Sheriff said: The public needs retraining, not the police.  http://asmdss.com/education/opinion-its-not-the-police-that-need-to-be-retrained-its-the-public

    Now, we can all agree that bad cops need to be removed from the force.  Point ceded.  But to prevent our police from effective policing is not a good idea.

    If you do support this resolution strongly, might I suggest that you become adept at the use of a firearm.

    TMOFFATT says:

    Hmmm. We support “initiatives

    Hmmm. We support “initiatives that are proven to reduce…use of force on the historically marginalized.” A) Are there many initiatives that are PROVEN to do that?  B) Is it OK to beat the pudding out  of someone who is not marginalized (a drunken white male CEO who becomes combattive when stopped for a DUI for example) ?  C) “Historically marginalized” is hopelessly pseudo-PC and patronizing. Say what you mean. Leave it as opposing police brutality and supporting studies of injuries/health issues arising from it.

  3. MSV51243
    MSV51243 says:

    Police violence

    The last thing we need to do is adopt a resolution that might put the MSV at odds with the folks who protect our ERs, hospitals, and clinics.  

  4. prakashm@vt.edu
    [email protected] says:


    Understandably, I think we as physicians support the the police in that we are grateful for their ability to be first responders. I think we as physicians also have the duty to recognize that the police have not trained for years, like us, to understand how to deal with say, an acutely psychotic patient or provide trauma informed care after a mass disaster. Ultimately, we need to recognize that in our role as healthcare workers, we need to advocate for better resources to address the sequelae of this gap in training, whether that be preventing PTSD from police encounters or provide resources that allow for medical first responders. Ultimately, I think the important point that we need to address as physicians is how to prevent the consequences from police brutality AND NOT debate whether or not it happens. In the same way that “bad apple” doctors are held accountable via malpractice lawsuits, I believe it is appropriate that others be held to a similar standard –> And although this is my personal opinion, I recognize that this is not what is in debate here. 


    this resolution tries to figure out how to deal with the healthcare effects of adverse events with the police

  5. edemobs@evms.edu
    [email protected] says:

    MSS Testimony

    Standing With Our Communities Against Racism and Police Violence (MSS Authored) 


    Testimony on behalf of MSS to support the student-authored resolution “Standing with our Communities Against Racism and Police Violence”.


    This resolution highlights the issue of police brutality eroding trust in medical institutions, leading to inadequate access to healthcare and poor health outcomes. Exposure to excessive policing and police violence is a social determinant of health. Pretextual police stops are associated with increased symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, and depression. The chronic stress of racial discrimination, which includes such experiences, is also associated with decreasing overall life expectancy for Black Americans.


    A Pew Research Study article found that while Black Americans face higher COVID-19 risks, they are more hesitant to trust medical scientists and get vaccinated when compared to whites and hispanics. Their lack of trust should not be a surprise – as healthcare providers we have inherited a medical system that has a historical record of mistreatment of Black patients. With this resolution, we can take an active stance against these injustices.


    We also have precedent to rely on:

    The Maryland medical society has already declared racism a public health crisis and is calling on its state legislators to do many of the same things that we are asking (https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2020/06/03/medchi-md-declares-racism-public-health-crisis.html).


    And the Massachusetts Medical Society:



    The AMA board of trustees has already pledged action against racism and police brutality: (https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/ama-statements/ama-board-trustees-pledges-action-against-racism-police-brutality).


    We would not be among the first 40 organizations to adopt a similar stance. A list of over 40 medical societies that have taken a stance against police brutality: https://pfcjreform.org/medical-organizations-against-police-brutality/


    Police brutality against BIPOC communities is an evidence-based threat to public health. Physicians are integral parts of the public health infrastructure of any society, and we believe that we have the responsibility to combat systemic injustices. Staying on the sidelines would give no added benefit to the organization, in fact, it will lead to another example of how organized medicine in the United States has failed it’s vulnerable population. Supporting this proposal at the very least helps build back trust and reinforces the image of physicians as leaders in their community. 


  6. slepchjk@evms.edu
    [email protected] says:

    We Need Accountability

    I think it is intellectually dishonest to, as some in the comments have done, portray this resolution as being “anti-police” , making enemies, outside the scope of physicians etc etc. The resolution explicitly demonstrates why this is within our scope: police violence leads to both direct and indirect health consequences. To say this resolution ” prevent our police from effective policing” , or “put the MSV at odds with the folks who protect our ERs, hospitals, and clinics” suggests that modern policing is predicated and dependent on excessive use of force. That is a problem! This is the alarmist “hairball” that prevents meaningful reform that would improve the lives of many. We are so afraid that holding police to any standard of accountability when it comes to violence will inevitably lead to a state of anarchy and the streets will flow with blood. It is possible for policing to be effective without the routine use of violence. When there are no consequences to inappropriate use of force, and that is indisputably the case in America, it leads to unnecessary and preventable harm to our communities.

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