Will DOJ Penalize States For Not Reporting Killings by Police?

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U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Photo by Eric Garcetti via Flickr

The U.S. Justice Department’s Arrest Related Death (ARD) program has failed to account for as many as half of homicides committed annually by law enforcement officers, says The Daily Beast. Under the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2000, states are required to submit data to the program, but 14 states have not reported complete data. The program should have captured an estimated 928 law enforcement homicides a year, says a DOJ report, but it managed to capture only 453 annually over a six-year period. Because reporting is voluntary, the authors concluded, the numbers of law enforcement homicides submitted by states to the program do not reflect reality.

The numbers only became more accurate when, in 2011, researchers began using web searches. That year the program saw a 39 percent increase in the number of police killings recorded—from 496 in 2009 to 689 in 2011. Why it took eight years for the Justice Department to use Google is anyone’s guess. In 2014, Congress reauthorized the Death In Custody Reporting Act, and said DOJ could revoke up to 10 percent of federal Justice Assistance Grants from states that failed to report police killings and other arrest-related deaths to the program. DOJ officials have not disclosed whether or not grant funds have been revoked in the 13-year history of the ARD program. A group of 67 civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the ACLU has asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to invoke the penalties.


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