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Law enforcement watchers explore new DOJ plan to collect data on police shootings nationwide




Marneisha Jones places a stuff animal at a makeshift memorial for Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male teenager fatally wounded by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson Police officer on August 9, 2014.
Marneisha Jones places a stuff animal at a makeshift memorial for Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male teenager fatally wounded by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson Police officer on August 9, 2014.
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

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In an effort to provide the public with more information about police shootings in the wake of incidents like Ferguson, Baton Rouge, and Charlotte, the U.S. Department of Justice is launching a plan to collect data from local law enforcement agencies nationwide on use of force, including fatal and non-fatal shootings as well as deaths in police custody.

The plan will start a pilot program under the F.B.I. next year that will aggregate data from federal agencies like the DEA and ATF, but it will also get data from local departments as well. It also appropriates $750,000 to help departments release even more data on things like citizen stops or searches.

The problem, according to some critics, is that the plan doesn’t do enough to ensure that police departments are reporting data accurately. Local law enforcement is required to report fatal police encounters to the DOJ, but not non-fatal ones or deaths in custody. They worry the plan as it currently stands doesn’t do enough to make the data reporting more mandatory than voluntary.

California’s Department of Justice recently launched its own database on police-involved shootings as a result of a state law requiring local law enforcement to report shootings and use of force to the State DOJ.

Guests: 

Eric Lichtblau, reporter for the New York Times Washington bureau; he wrote the recent article, “Justice Department to Track Use of Force by Police Across U.S.

Jim Newton, Editor of Blueprint, a new magazine about California, covered the LAPD for the LA Times from 1992-1997; he tweets @newton_jim

Celeste Fremon, editor and founder of WitnessLA and author of ‘G-Dog and the Homeboys: Father Greg Boyle and the Gangs of East Los Angeles’ (2004)