Fifty years too late, the FBI finally joins the fight to clean up the Police in the US
Federal Bureau of Investigation to Launch New System Counting People Killed by Police
The Washington Post and The Guardian began compiling data on violent law enforcement encounters earlier this year.
More than 900 civilians were fatally shot by police so far this year, according to The Post's own analysis, while the Guardianhas put the tally at 1,058 deaths.
David Klinger, a former police officer and professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, who has advocated for better data for more than a decade, said he was pleased to hear of the new system but skeptical about its implementation. The program only collects data on the number of so-called "justifiable homicides" reported by police, as well as information about the felonious killing and assault of law enforcement officers.
The Post's database has also motivated the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS,) another Justice Department agency, to change the way it tracks police-related deaths. The program will still rely on voluntary reporting, however, because the agency doesn't have the authority to compel local police departments to comply with its requests for data.
The proposal has not yet been signed off by FBI Director James Comey pending the agency's legal review.
This is why they are starting a project on tracking not only fatal shootings, but also any type of incident in which a police officer causes a civilian serious injury, regardless of the means, whether they use pepper spray or stun guns or their fists. "People want to know what police are doing, and they want to know why they are using force". It is now the highest priority, " he added. The Guardian reports that "Officials said statisticians were intending to count deadly incidents involving physical force, Tasers and blunt weapons used by officers as well as firearms and that they planned to begin gradually publishing some more information about fatal incidents as soon as 2016".
In a statement provided to the Guardian, the Federal Bureau of Investigation explained that there was an obvious need for "robust and complete information about encounters between law enforcement officers and citizens that result in a use of force".
Morris said the leaders of the nation's largest police organizations have agreed for the first time to lobby local departments to produce the data.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr., a member of the advisory board, said police organizations "will be taking a leadership role to use peer pressure to get all departments to report on this".
"For a lot of departments, it's not like they were actively against [releasing data], they just didn't really know how to do it", Clarence Wardell, a Presidential Innovation Fellow who works on the White House's Police Data Initiative said at an event at Harvard's Kennedy School in November.