How Do We Track The Use Of Deadly Force By Police?
The Federal Bureau of Investigations is starting a new database to track civilian encounters with law enforcement when deadly force is used.
The database will follow “incidents in which a death or serious bodily injury occurs, or when officers discharge a firearm at or in the direction of someone,” according to The Associated Press. “[G]ender, age, ethnicity and other demographic information” will also be collected.
However, police departments are not required to submit this information to the database — a loophole which could potentially limit analysis.
News organizations like The Washington Post have tracked police shootings previously, because the collective data simply did not exist elsewhere.
The Post reports that 973 people were shot and killed by police in 2018 alone, as of December 27. They previously reported that in 2014 and 2015, “African Americans are disproportionately more likely to be killed by police than white people. Latinos also are overrepresented in data on killings by police, making up 17.6 percent of the population but 19.3 percent of these deaths.”
The new database comes amid heated ongoing debate about the use of force against civilians by police, and the role of guns in American life. Could this new effort by federal law enforcement reflect a turning point in the fight against police brutality? Or is it too little, too late?
Wesley Lowery, National reporter, The Washington Post; @WesleyLowery
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