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Improve Reporting of Police Use of Force #97
The Department of Justice should develop standards and best practices for reporting data about police use of force and officer-involved shootings, and tie compliance with these standards to local police department's eligibility to receive material support from the federal government.
Developing standards for reporting police use of force and officer-involved shootings and incentivizing adherence to these standards would provide an authoritative source for this data so policymakers and the public can better understand what is working and not working in the criminal justice system and build trust between citizens and police.
The federal government does not require local police departments to report incidents of police use of force or officer-involved shootings, despite the value this data would provide the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice has previously announced its intention to collect this data, but police departments have no requirement or incentive to provide this data. The Bureau of Justice Statistics should develop clear standards for collecting and reporting data on police use of force and officer-involved shootings, and the Department of Justice should stipulate that if police departments want to continue receiving the hundreds of millions of dollars of funding and equipment that the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies award to state and local police agencies every year, they have to adopt these standards and practices and report their data to demonstrate their commitments transparency and accountability. Given how substantial this funding is—New York City received $179 million in 2014 from just one Department of Homeland Security program—police departments would likely be much more proactive about sharing their data.
-By January 1, 2018, the Bureau of Justice Statistics should request public comments about best practices and standards for reporting data about use of force and officer-involved shootings to ensure that this data can be as accessible and useful as possible.