Crime & Justice

Boxer wants to force reluctant police departments to report when they kill people

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on military sexual assault November 6, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. A bipartisan group of senators are pushing to create an independent military justice system with the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on military sexual assault November 6, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. A bipartisan group of senators are pushing to create an independent military justice system with the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
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Amid a national uproar over police killings, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Tuesday proposed requiring states to report when their police officers kill people.

"Too many members of the public and police officers are being killed, and we don't have reliable statistics to track these tragic incidents," Boxer said in a statement. "This bill will ensure that we know the full extent of the problem so we can save lives on all sides."

Right now, it’s voluntary for police departments to report officer-involved killings. In 2013, the FBI reported 461 policing killings, though many say those statistics undercount the true number of deaths.  

That's in part because dozens of police agencies refuse to report the numbers, including the New York Police Department.

The Police Reporting of Information, Data and Evidence Act would require states to report a cop is involved in a shooting, and any other instance where use of force by or against a law enforcement officer or civilian results in serious bodily injury or death, according to Boxer.

Among the information states would be required to report:

Many large Southern California police agencies already report police killings, including the LAPD and Sheriff’s Department. L.A. Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said everyone else should, too. “If can get truth in apples to apples in anything that’s a good thing,” he said.

Boxer’s proposal comes after a report by the Guardian newspaper that tries to document all police killings.

Commander Andy Smith said the newspaper incorrectly reported that the LAPD had killed 10 people so far this year. The paper counted a car accident and an off duty officer accused of murder. The number is eight, which is up a little, he said.

“It’s a seven percent over last year which is obviously a concern,” he said. “But it’s not a cause for alarm when you compare it across the board over the course of the years.”

In 2011, LAPD officers killed 26 people, according to the department. The four-year average is 19.

LAPD Use of Force Data: Officer involved shootings (2011 - 2015)

Officer involved shootings Suspect Hit Suspect Injured Suspect Killed
2011 47 21 26
2012 29 13 17
2013 35 20 14
2014 26 9 18
2015 (year to date) 15 7 8