New Bill Would Require Justice Department to Track Police Killings

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The proposed law would require police officers to report any killings that happened in their custody to the Department of Justice

Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) has introduced the National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act of 2014, a bill that would call for the Department of Justice to record every death that occurs in police custody, reports The Hill.

Currently, the DOJ does not keep comprehensive records of these deaths.

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"Before we can truly address the problem of excessive force used by law enforcement, we have to understand the nature of the problem, and that begins with accurate data," Rep. Cohen said in a statement

The new bill would require local police departments to submit a report that details any killings by police officers. The report would list the date of the killing; both the officer's and victim's race, gender, ethnicity, religion and age; the crime committed by the deceased; an explanation of why deadly force was required; how the victim was killed; and the methods that the police officer took to resolve the situation before resorting to a fatal attack.

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The information would be made available to the public, though names would be omitted.

"I am introducing this bill so that our country can begin to honestly assess racial disparities and other problems in our justice system and begin to fix them," Rep. Cohen said. "It is a step in the right direction and a critical component of the healing process."

If police officers failed to comply with the guidelines, the DOJ could withhold federal funding at their discretion. However, since the bill was introduced late in the congressional year, Cohen will have to reintroduce it in January.

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