Last Sunday’s editorial “Better data on officer-involved shootings needed” pointed out that state and federal government do not keep statistics of officer-involved shootings. The FBI collects extensive data about crime and has one division that compiles detailed information on officers killed or assaulted in the line of duty. But, the editorial stated: “when it comes to civilians dying at the hands of police, what information does exist is spotty and of dubious accuracy. There is not even a comprehensive list of the nation’s police excessive-use-of-force reports, though Congress required the reporting of such data 20 years ago.”
The shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., and the civil unrest that followed highlighted the concern of what seems to be a growing common occurrence. But we have no way of knowing because records are not kept. Last week’s Conversation asked readers to respond the two questions: Should records be kept on officer-involved shootings? How would the public benefit from that data?