According to Mapping Police Violence, a crowdsourced database created by activists, the number of black Americans killed by police has declined since a spike in 2015, the year after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, which sparked clashes with police as well as a nationwide debate about police use of force, PBS New Hour reports.
But determining the trends in police-involved killings — and what measures are effective in reducing them — can be difficult because there is no federal mandate that requires police departments to report lethal encounters. Advocates say the fact that police departments themselves are not gathering data on fatal shootings is part of the reason that police-involved killings are still happening on a daily basis. “[Police departments] can tell me how many cars are stolen, but they can’t tell you how many people they killed? That is the sad state of affairs,” said Chris Burbank, vice president of strategic partnership at the Center for Policing Equity.