DOJ Improves Counting of Killings by Police Nationwide

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A new federal government program to count killings by police, which draws on data collected by the Guardian, has recorded a sharply higher number of deaths than previous official efforts, the Guardian reports. Homicides by police were logged by the Department of Justice’s new system at more than twice the rate previously reported by the FBI, said new data published by the department yesterday. Officials said their new method for counting “arrest-related deaths” should improve the “reliability, validity and comprehensiveness” of information on killings by police, after the weakness of previous efforts was exposed.

“These efforts result in improvements in data completeness and quality,” a report by officials working for the Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded. The Guardian has been counting the people killed by U.S. law enforcement agencies since 2015. The new “hybrid” system combines a review of open-source data, including the Guardian’s series “The Counted,” with a survey of local authorities. It recorded 270 homicides by officers in three months last year. The FBI said earlier this year that it had counted just 442 in all of 2015. Duren Banks, the program’s lead statistician, said the trial had been “a success” compared to a previous incarnation, which was estimated to be catching only half of all arrest-related deaths before being temporarily shut down in 2014.


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