The newly created White House panel on policing will consider recommending creation of a national repository that tracks all manner of civilian deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers, reports USA Today. It’s part of an effort to re-establish trust between police and the communities they serve, said task force co-chair Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
Congress passed legislation this week requiring states to report the deaths of all people in law enforcement custody or during arrest to the federal government. The most prominent record of civilian fatalities — the FBI’s annual report of justifiable homicides — was described by Ramsey as “hit or miss” because of its reliance on voluntary reporting by police agencies. Criminal justice analysts say the universe of civilian deaths remains largely unknown. University of Nebraska criminologist Samuel Walker, who has described the lack of a repository as a “major failure” of the criminal justice system, said a national reporting program could finally bring “some solid facts” to a public discussion that has largely relied on anecdotal reporting.