Federal Count Misses 28% Of Police Homicides, Comey Calls It “Ridiculous”


The FBI and U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) each identified fewer than half of the expected number of homicides by law enforcement officers between 2003 and 2011, excluding 2010, a new BJS analysis found. The agency said its own Arrest Related Death program found about 49 percent of an estimated 7,427 police homicides during the period, and the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report found 46 percent. Some 28 percent of law enforcement homicides in the U.S. were not recorded on either system, BJS said. Under a law reauthorized by Congress in 2013 to gather information on deaths of people while in the custody of law enforcement, BJS said it is seeking to create “a more centralized method for identifying arrest-related deaths and providing incentives for law enforcement agencies to confirm or identify deaths that occur during the process of arrest and to provide information about them.”

The agency said it is exploring “the use of open-source data to identify arrest-related deaths in conjunction with a direct survey of law enforcement and other agencies responsible for investigating deaths in the process of arrest.” Speaking to a meeting of law enforcement leaders in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, FBI director James Comey alluded to efforts by two news organizations to fill the statistics gap and said, “It is unacceptable that the Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper from the UK are becoming the lead source of information about violent encounters between [US] police and civilians. That is not good for anybody,” the Guardian reports. “You can get online and figure out how many tickets were sold to The Martian … the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] can do the same with the flu. It's ridiculous – embarrassing and ridiculous – that we can't talk about crime in the same way, especially in the high-stakes incidents when your officers have to use force.”

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