Friday, January 01, 2016

No Good Data on Killings by Polce

According to USA Today: "The deaths, and other instances of police violence that disproportionately target African-American communities, have fueled demands for greater transparency in reporting by police forces nationwide.
A major impediment to justice and accountability for police violence is the lack of comprehensive data on law enforcement-involved shootings and use-of-force incidents. Now, however, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has come out against a federal mandate on reporting deaths in police custody. I beg to differ: Police transparency should not be seen as a hindrance to responsible policing. Rather, it is critical for accountability and vital for public trust in our police forces."

Current sources are unreliable because not all agencies report and not all report accurately. "How can it be, in this era of open data, that we know so little? Much of what we do know is thanks not to government records, but rather to old-fashioned reporting by a few dedicated journalists. Wall Street Journal reporters collected and analyzed the latest data from 105 of the country’s largest police agencies and discovered that "more than 550 police killings (between 2007 and 2012) were missing from the national tally or, in a few dozen cases, not attributed to the agency involved." Reporters for The (London) Guardian and The Washington Post compiled data on differing aspects of law enforcement-involved violence, but they had to do so by poring over news accounts, police reports and other records to try to capture a fuller picture on the issues."

There are no penalties for reporting failures, but a bill has been introduced in Congress to try address the problem.

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