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Thursday, July 30, 2015

It’s About Time: New Bill Requires Police to Report All Shootings & Uses of Force

BY: Claire Bernish

United States -
(ANTIMEDIA) Legislation introduced Tuesday would bring desperately needed transparency — and possibly even accountability — to American policing. Senators Cory Booker and Barbara Boxer unveiled the Police Reporting of Information, Data, and Evidence (PRIDE) Act that would require states to report every instance when a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting or any other violent action that results bodily injury or death.
Currently, the federal system for reporting such statistics is something of a farce, as police voluntarily report only “justifiable homicides” to the FBI. Even then, they are reported only if a person is killed in the commission of a felony.
Boxer cites a Washington Post article from Saturday as one of the catalysts bringing about this legislation, which states more than two people per day, at least 385, have been fatally shot by police so far in 2015 —  twice what the federal government tallies for an entire decade. Even the Post’s number is lowball, as independent sources listed at least 400 killed by police at the beginning of last month.
“The first step in fixing a problem is understanding the extent of the problem you have. Justice and accountability go hand in hand — but without reliable data it’s difficult to hold people accountable or create effective policies that change the status quo,” said Booker of the proposed law. “Our legislation is vital to ensuring we have the data required to make good decisions and implement reform measures that are balanced, objective, and protect the lives of police officers and the public.”
All states would be required to report officers’ use of force incidents to the Attorney General, with the following criteria considered the minimum information to be included:
The gender, race, ethnicity, and age of each individual who was shot, injured, or killed
The date, time, and location of the incident
The number of officers and number of civilians involved in the incident
Whether the civilian was armed with a weapon
The type of force used against the officer, the civilian, or both, including the types of weapons used
Included with the legislation is the possibility for grants to train law enforcement on use of force, emphasizing de-escalation and “bias training.”
“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 explained. “This bill will ensure that we know the full extent of the problem so we can save lives on all sides.”
The lack of a federal reporting system for police use of force up to this point is a contemptible absurdity when a life is lost every 7½ for that very reason. Far from being a solution for police brutality, perhaps the PRIDE Act will function as a way to at least get a handle on the scope of the problem.