Certain killings are missing from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s official records of “homicides by officers.” The reason for the missing information is because most police departments refuse to submit the requested data.
Out of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States, only 224 departments reported a fatal shooting by their officers.
A spokesman for the FBI, Stephen Fischer, said that certain exclusions were inevitable because the program is voluntary. “We have no way of knowing how many incidents may have been omitted.”
Amid increased pressure on public authorities, a thorough review of all data on claimed justifiable homicides by police collected by the FBI from police departments between 2004 and 2014 show the following:
•No police departments from Florida (the third most populous state) reported any homicides by officers. The New York police department submitted data for just one year during the past 10 years.
•The FBI records only basic personal details of each person killed and does not include whether they were armed with a weapon.
•An inconsistent and bungled approach was applied to recording other high-profile deaths over recent years. Some were logged, some were placed in different categories and some were simply omitted.
•A rise in homicides by police publicly reported by the FBI over the past five years coincided with a rise in the number of individual departments reporting any homicides, thereby questioning the supposed trends.
•Details regarding many controversial deaths were entered incorrectly in the FBI database, damaging efforts to monitor and observe demographic information about individuals killed by police.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it was trying out a new system for counting police-involved homicides. The system’s procedure resembles the record keeping and reporting of certain media publications. The pilot program is being led by the DOJ’s bureau of justice statistics. The announcement of the program followed sharp comments from United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI director James Comey, who reiterated that better official records must be kept by police.