FBI Unveils New Database on Police-Involved Shootings and Use-of-Force Incidents

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it has launched the “first ever” national database dedicated to collecting data on “police-involved shootings” and use-of-force incidents, Axios reported.

The new National-Use-of-Force Data Collection, which started compiling data from law enforcement agencies nationwide early last month, will keep tabs on “situations connected to use of force by a police officer” and will note whether initial contact between that officer and the subject was due to “unlawful or criminal activity,” according to the news site.

FBI Use of Force Database
The FBI’s new National-Use-of-Force Collection will keep data on police use-of-force events that result in bodily harm, fatalities or the discharge of an officer’s weapon. (Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Three types of use-of-force events will be tracked by agency, specifically those resulting in  serious bodily injuries, fatalities or when an officer’s gun is discharged at or near someone. Additionally, the database will keep information on the date and time of such incidents, how many officers were involved, the reason for initial contact between officers and the subject and whether it was an ambush incident.

“With a national data collection, data users can view use-of-force incidents involving law enforcement from a nationwide perspective,” the agency’s website states. “The goal of the resulting statistics is not to offer insight into single use-of-force incidents but to provide an aggregate view of the incidents reported and the circumstances, subjects, and the officers involved.

“The data collected focuses on information that is readily known and can be reported within the first few days after a use-of-force occurrence,” it continued. “[However], our statistical reports emphasize the collective nature of the data and do not assess whether the officers involved in use-of-force incidents acted lawfully or within the bounds of department policy,” it continued.

Axios pointed out that The Washington Post has been keeping a national database of every deadly shooting by a police officer since 2015. What gives the FBI database a leg up in the matter is that it offers details on the specific injuries caused by an officer, which the WaPo database does not.

With the collected data, the FBI said it plans to periodically release statistics to the public, along with information on characteristics and trends found in the data. As for individual law enforcement agencies, the onus is on them to submit data on their own officers involved in the aforementioned use-of-force events.

“The FBI has received positive feedback from the law enforcement community about implementing a national use-of-force data collection,” the agency said. “Many local agencies already publish use-of-force statistics for their constituents and have made transparency a priority in their communities.”

According to the WaPo police shooting’s database, 116 people have been shot and killed by law enforcement so far in 2019. Fifteen of those incidents involved African-Americans, while 12 were Latino and 26 were white. The other cases were simply listed as “other” or “unknown.”

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