The Justice Department is seeking to build a system of “national, consistent data,” on police use of force, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said yesterday. “This information is useful because it helps us see trends, it helps us promote accountability and transparency,” she told a news conference, adding that DOJ is “developing standards for publishing information about deaths in custody as well, because transparency and accountability are helped by this kind of national data.” DOJ now publishes annual figures on the number of “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement, but the reporting is voluntary and not all police departments participate. The Obama administration is working with law enforcement to improve the process, DOJ said.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the FBI are collaborating with major policing organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Major Cities Chiefs of Police Association (MCCA), and the Major County Sheriffs Association (MCSA) on better defining data collections on police use-of-force and homicides by law enforcement officers. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program is now collecting data on non-fatal shootings between law enforcement and civilians. BJS is working on new methods of identifying deaths in police custody to go further than media reports, DOJ said. BJS will survey police departments, medical examiners' offices and investigative offices about the reports that it identifies from open sources and using data from the multiple source to obtain a more accurate factual account of each incident, DOJ said. The agency plans to start a national program on arrest-related deaths next year, DOJ said.