FBI: Database Tracking Police Shootings Coming Soon

| by Ray Brown
Police wear military garb during protests protests in Ferguson, Missouri.Police wear military garb during protests protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

It could take up to two years until the FBI is able to create a database to keep track of police shootings.

“Everybody gets why it matters,” FBI Director James Comey told the House Judiciary Committee, reported the Chicago Tribune.

The federal government does not keep track of uses of deadly force by local police departments around the country. However, demands for such record-keeping have increased since police shootings have become a part of the national conversation since the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man in Ferguson, Missouri.

Although the federal government doesn't keep track of these shootings and it could be another two years before it figures out a way to do so, media organizations have filled the information void.

Since 2012, D. Brian Burghart, former editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review, has maintained a database of police killings called “Fatal Encounters” that is based primarily on local news reports.

“I’ve created this page because I believe in a democracy, citizens should be able to figure out how many people are killed by law enforcement, why they were killed, and whether training and policies can be modified to decrease the number of officer-involved deaths,” Burghart says on the Fatal Encounters website.

Since police shootings have become a major news topic, bigger media organizations have also created databases.

The Guardian, a U.K.-based organization, has maintained a database of police shootings since 2015.

And The Washington Post began a database this year.

But in what might be an example of why there's a need for at least one official government source to confirm killings by police officers, each of these databases have different information. The Guardian counts 801 people killed by police in 2016, while The Washington Post has 715. Fatal Encounters counts 1,058. 

Sources: Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Fatal Encounters, Fatal Encounters/Twitter / Photo credit: Jamelle Bouie/Flickr

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