Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

POLICE USE OF FORCE; Lack of Stats

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

POLICE USE OF FORCE; Lack of Stats

Article excerpt

The world of government statistics includes just about every fact imaginable, from numbers of manatees in a state to the number of doctors disciplined.

But finding comparable data from law enforcement agencies about civilians shot by police?

It doesn't exist unless a citizen collects it from individual agencies and compiles it.

The lack of central data makes it hard to find trends. It also minimizes public scrutiny of shootings by police.

How does Jacksonville compare to other communities over time? What can we learn? We're in an information vacuum.

Taxpayers should have the right to such information about the people paid to protect them.

The FBI doesn't keep such statistics, although it has tried to do surveys and reports from time to time. The U.S. Justice Department Bureau of Statistics -- another logical place -- doesn't have them either.

The 1994 Crime Control Act dictated the U.S. attorney general collect the information and compile a report. However, there is no directive requiring local agencies to provide the statistics.

Yet, agencies do offer details to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on officers killed and assaulted that are assembled annually.

That data is part of a broader uniform crime reporting system headed by the FBI and supported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Those are the statistics released each year that detail how communities fared from one year to the next regarding reports of murder, robbery, rape, burglary, auto theft and other key crime categories.

Technically, agencies voluntarily participate in providing statistics. But the information is crucial for a variety of reasons.

The annual reports are good ways to determine whether crime is increasing and how.

They provide insight on where tax money perhaps should be spent and on how resources might be better directed by police. …

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