Electronic coding errors, reporting inconsistencies, jurisdictional issues and police noncompliance with standard crime reporting guidelines have caused an untold number of officer-involved fatal shootings of civilians to go unreported or uncounted in Virginia, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The full scope of the underreporting of police killings in Virginia cannot be quantified, but the paper has identified more than two dozen cases that have gone uncounted since 2000.
Most of the unreported cases fall under an FBI crime reporting category of police “justifiable homicides,” which local law enforcement agencies are required to report each year to Virginia State Police. But the reporting is voluntary, and there is no penalty for noncompliance. Other cases have gone uncounted apparently because the officers' actions could not be justified, and there is no state or federal mechanism to record or track those types of killings. The inexact reporting of police killings in Virginia mirrors a similar problem nationally. One source called the lack of information on Virginia police shootings “appalling.”