Days after the launch of two newspaper database projects aimed at tracking killings by police officers, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced plans to introduce legislation that would require all states to report to the Justice Department any time a police officer is involved in a shooting or any other use of force that results in death, the Washington Post reports. The bill goes further than the Death In Custody Reporting Act, which was approved by Congress last year. Each state would be required to provide details including age, gender, race and whether the person was armed for any police shooting.
The senators cited Post reporting that at least 385 people have been shot and killed by police since January, putting the nation on pace to have more than double the number of fatal police shootings tallied on average by the federal government. The Guardian unveiled a similar reporting project, The Counted, which aims to tally every person killed by a police officer by shooting, Taser or other death in custody in 2015. Some civil rights leaders have criticized Congress for passing little legislation in response to the unrest in Ferguson. Many activists who have led protests in the past year would consider the passage of legislation requiring detailed death in custody reporting to DOJ to be a major victory. “The fact that there seems to be political will to establish a federal database is a very good sign,” said David Klinger, a criminologist at the University of Missouri who has been fighting for more than a decade for better reporting on police use of force incidents.