Police departments will be required to give the US justice department full details of deadly incidents involving their officers each quarter, under a new government system for counting killings by police that was influenced by the Guardian.
Announcing a new program for documenting all “arrest-related deaths”, federal officials said they would actively work to confirm fatal cases seen in media reports and other open sources rather than wait for departments to report them voluntarily.
Writing in the Federal Register, Department of Justice officials said their new program should increase transparency around the use of force by police and improve accountability for the actions of individual officers.
“Accurate and comprehensive accounting of deaths that occur during the process of arrest is critical for law enforcement agencies to demonstrate responsiveness to the citizens and communities they serve,” their notice said.
The federal government has kept no comprehensive record of killings by police officers, even as a series of controversial deaths set off unrest in cities across the country over the past two years. An annual voluntary count by the FBI of fatal shootings by officers has recorded only about half the true number.
The new system is being overseen by the department’s bureau of justice statistics (BJS). It would, like the Guardian’s, document deaths caused by physical force, Taser shocks and some vehicle crashes caused by law enforcement in addition to fatal shootings by officers. A Washington Post tally counts fatal shootings by police.
Read more at the Guardian.
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