The FBI’s system for tracking fatal police shootings is a “travesty,” and the agency will replace it by 2017, dramatically expanding the information it gathers on violent police encounters in the United States, a senior FBI official said Tuesday.
The new effort will go beyond tracking fatal shootings and, for the first time, track any incident in which an officer causes serious injury or death to civilians, including through the use of stun guns, pepper spray and even fists and feet.
“We are responding to a real human outcry,” said Stephen L. Morris, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which oversees the data collection. “People want to know what police are doing, and they want to know why they are using force. It always fell to the bottom before. It is now the highest priority.”
This is a laudable decision, albeit an overdue one (and another sharp rebuke to people claiming that Black Lives Matter isn’t accomplishing anything). The police, like all arms of government, must be accountable to the people and transparent about their activities.
So, resolved: national, uniform collection of police-violence data is a vital public good.