Target: Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Goal: Hold police accountable for their actions through the creation of a national database.
Beginning with the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown on August 9th, 2014 by police officer Darren Wilson, America has engaged in a nationwide dialogue over law enforcement’s use of lethal force on civilians.
But what if people want to find out how many civilians are killed by law enforcement each year? While the government does have a database that accounts for how many police officers are killed in the line of the duty, there is no database for the number of civilians killed by police.
Federal policy allows the more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies to self-report any shooting involving a police officer as part of the FBI’s annual data report on “justifiable homicides.” Only about 750 agencies contribute to this database. With the information reported to this database, these types of deaths are around 400 each year. However, journalists insist that the number of people killed by police each year could be more than 1,000. The Department of Justice also tracks “arrest-related” deaths but has stopped releasing those numbers in the past five years because the statistics are considered to be unreliable.
America can no longer rely on the law enforcement to self-report data regarding shootings. It is time for the Attorney General to implement a national database on police shootings.
Dear Attorney General Loretta Lynch,
As Attorney General of the United States, you work for justice every day. It has come to my attention that there is no way to find statistics regarding the number of shootings involving police and, therefore, justice is not being served to the people of this country.
Citizens have the right to access information regarding civilian casualties by police. Lack of access to this information will prevent the fostering of productive relationships between the community and law enforcement as well as prevent police officers from being held accountable for their actions. By creating a national database, law enforcement can refine their practices to prevent unnecessary killings.
I urge you to create a national database for these statistics, which will make reporting shootings by police mandatory, something that is necessary to achieve the justice you work so hard for.
Photo credit: russelkorets