Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Police Homicides, What We Know and Don't Know

I've started the following petition:

"Barack Obama and Harry Reid and John Boehner: Pass a law mandating that law enforcement must file a report with the FBI every time a police shooting results in the death of a citizen."   I am asking for your help to get this petition off the ground.

Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here's the link:

Here's why it's important:

Do you know how many people are shot and killed by law enforcement every year?  No?

Neither does anyone else. Records aren't collected for what is called police homicides, which includes justifiable shootings.

There are 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States but no national database to track police killings of civilians. The FBI maintains a partial data based of reports submit on a voluntary basis. Only 750 law enforcement agencies, just 44% , volunteer to submit their data. What the FBI  does collect are only those cases in which the police homicides were considered justified by the departments reporting. There is no auditing or review process either.  It has been reported that the US Border Patrol doesn't even report shooting up their chain of command.

When government law enforcement officers kill civilians it is everyone's right to know about it. We are all ultimately responsible for the actions of our government. The first logical step is to require that records be kept for public inspection.

What does the currently limited information show?

There are about 400 justified police homicides per year. Every week in this country there are two incidents like the one in Ferguson, Missouri, involving a white police officer shooting a black citizen. About half of all police homicides involve black citizens, and among the population of folks 21 years old or younger, the police homicide rate for blacks is 18%, twice the rate for white citizens (8.7%).

Again, these numbers are based on voluntary self-report from less than half of all law enforcement agencies nation wide.  It seems evident from what we know and don't know that collecting better, more complete information about police homicides is important.

You can sign my petition by clicking here.

Brain T. Lynch, MSW


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