The Justice Department is putting a new program in place to better track the use of excessive force by law enforcement organizations across the country.
As part of the new initiative, the DOJ will collect nationwide data on police killings and violent encounters in an effort to provide better public access to these incidents, according to the New York Times. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced plans on Thursday to begin implementing the new strategy early next year, describing it as a vital step towards “increasing transparency and building trust” between police and the communities they serve.
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While the program is undeniably the most aggressive plan of action the federal government has put in place to address the lack of concrete data collection on fatal police encounters to date, some civil rights advocates feel the plan still falls short. The biggest concern among leaders and advocates against police brutality is that the amount of data collected will be partially dependent on the willingness of police officials to provide it.
At present, the most consistent information on police shootings comes from mainstream news media databases, a somewhat troubling fact that supports the frustrations of those who rightfully feel that compiling data on police shootings should be second nature for the government. “I can’t believe two years into this crisis, that we’re still having conversations about data,” ACLU attorney Kanya Bennett said.
The DOJ’s new police data collection system is the result of a 2014 presidential commission spearheaded by President Obama as one of his many efforts to alleviate tensions between local police departments and residents.