Support the Café

Search our Site

Searching for hard numbers on police killings

Old photo of a police officer leaning over a woman working on a primitive computer. The woman is taking a phone call.

Searching for hard numbers on police killings

Historical photo of police working with a computer

The Guardian wrapped up it’s two-part series investigating the real number of citizens killed by police in America on a hopeful note.

From the article:

In talking about the complexities of the problem, longtime observers and innovative number-crunchers share a quiet hope that a revolution in US crime statistics is closer than ever before, as anger and mistrust turn to reform and technology.

“What we will have – hopefully in the next three years – is a robust database in the major cities of all police shootings,” David Klinger a University of Missouri criminologist, said. “Then we can say, ‘You know what, federal government, here’s what’s doable, now pass a law to fund this.’”

Ultimately, the problem seems to stem from a lack of standardization and uniformity in police document keeping. Despite the differences in policy and data storage, however, the FBI manages to obtain an accurate count of the number of police officers killed on duty each year, and advocates for criminal justice reform use this fact to support their push for better reporting and increased transparency.

Klinger, the criminologist quoted above, also notes that the number of citizens dead isn’t enough; to really understand the use of lethal force, the public needs to know how often police miss or injure their targets. This presents a more complex problem for data collection, but not an insurmountable one. Some of the methods suggested to improve data collection include federal money for precincts that comply with reporting standards and state laws mandating such reporting.

Do you think we’ll see accurate counts from the FBI in the near future? Will the public call for transparency continue or be forgotten? If advocates don’t continue to push for these reforms, will they take place?


Posted by David Streever


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café