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What Do We Know About Police Homicides?
I’ve started the following petition:
“Barack Obama and Harry Reid and John Boehner: Pass a law mandating that law enforcement must file a report with the FBI every time a police shooting results in the death of a citizen.” I am asking for your help to get this petition off the ground.
Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here’s the link:
Here’s why it’s important:
Do you know how many people are shot and killed by law enforcement every year? No? Well neither does anybody else. Records aren’t collected for what is called police homicides, which includes justifiable shootings.
There are 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, including local municipal police, but no national database to track police killings of civilians. The FBI maintains a partial data based of reports submit on a voluntary basis. Only 750 law enforcement agencies, just 44% of all agencies, volunteer to submit police shooting data. What the FBI collects and reports are only those cases in which police homicides were considered justified by the departments reporting them. There is no auditing or review process either. And some law enforcement agencies, such as the US Border Patrol, don’t even have to report people they shoot and kill to their command.
When government law enforcement officers kill civilians it is our right to know about it. We are all ultimately responsible for the actions of our government. The first logical step is to require that a record be kept and available for public inspection.
So, what does the current, ver very limited information on police homicides show right now?
There are about 400 justified police homicides per year. Every week in this country there are two incidents like the one in Ferguson, Missouri, involving a white police officer shooting a black citizen. About half of all police homicides involve black citizens, and among the population of folks 21 years old or younger, the police homicide rate for blacks is 18%, twice the rate for white citizens (8.7%).
Again, these numbers are based on voluntary self-report from less than half of all law enforcement agencies nation wide. It seems evident from what we know and don’t know that collecting better, more complete information about police homicides is important.
You can sign my petition by clicking here.