In separate announcements, the FBI and the Department of Justice say they'll create programs to monitor police-involved shootings at the federal level. Law enforcement agencies are tasked with tallying their own officer-involved shootings, but after the officer-involved death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, it came to light that no government agency maintains a complete database of the national numbers.
On Wednesday, FBI Director James B. Comey called it "embarrassing" and "ridiculous" that up until very recently, officials had made no concerted effort to track the sort of violence that has inspired national protests and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made a similar declaration, saying the Department of Justice will create an open-source system that will track the number of people killed by police and incorporate data on nonfatal shootings, civilian deaths while in police custody, and use of force by law enforcement. Calling the data "vital," she said the absence of a consistent set of standards "makes it hard to see these trends, and that's why it is so important to focus on these [numbers]."
Better late than never.
Of course I applaud this but let's see how this pans out. There are apparently stylistic differences in the approach to counting when cops use too much force to do their job.
In the absence of reliable government statistics, journalists have picked up the slack by launching their own public Internet databases to track deadly shootings and even provide geographic and demographic context about each of the people killed. Still, there are discrepancies among the databases. The Washington Post puts the number of people fatally shot by police this year at 759; The Guardian puts the number at 891.
We should have been tracking this decades ago, like we need to have been tracking gun deaths and such, but 'some' don't want us to have hard data because information is power and they like things like they are RIGHT NOW.
I cannot wait to see what comes out of this.