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