Progress or nah? Attorney General Loretta Lynch has announced that the Department of Justice will start collecting data on police shootings and use of deadly force in America.
The biggest problem besides trigger-happy policing in America was the fact that there was never a central database to track these instances and show that it was indeed a problem. Now, after heightened awareness brought on by social media and protests over police killing people, the Department of Justice is pledging to do something about it.
NPR reports that the DOJ is creating a comprehensive database to track deadly police encounters with the public. They plan on having a pilot program in place by 2017.
“Accurate and comprehensive data on the use of force by law enforcement is essential to an informed and productive discussion about community-police relations,” Lynch said via statement. “The initiatives we are announcing today are vital efforts toward increasing transparency and building trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve.”
The announcement also states that public comment will be welcomed “from all interested parties, including local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement, civil rights organizations and other community stakeholders.” The program will rely heavily on local governments to report the incidents. They are expecting feedback from 701,486 law enforcement officers.
Up until now, the closest thing we’ve had to such a database were ones created by The Washington Post and the website Fatal Encounters. As of today, The Washington Post reports that 761 people have been killed by police in 2016 and they were able to identify the names of one-third of the officers involved.
The DOJ database will collect data on lethal force, however it will not cover force as a whole. Meaning, we will be able to get information on police killings, but not on every beatdown they handout, unless it is deadly or near-deadly.
With police already finding ways to work around bodycams and dashcams, don’t be surprised if they come up with new inventive ways to kick ass and have it fly beneath the radar.