National Use of Force Data Collection

Database will collect information about incidents in which force is used by a law enforcement officer that results in the death or serious bodily injury of a person.

Video Transcript

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(275) 275, dispatch.

(Dispatch) go ahead 275.

(275) suspect in custody. Send EMS.

(Dispatch) 275, EMS en route.

(Narrator) Police involved shootings and use of force have long been topics of national discussion, but high profile cases in which subjects died have heightened public awareness of these issues.

The opportunity to study use of force incidents and discuss their cause is hindered by the lack of enough data to compile nationwide statistics.

(Director James Comey) data seems like a dry and boring word, but without it we cannot understand our world and make it better.

How can we address concerns about use of force?

How can we address concerns about officer-involved shootings if we do not have a reliable grasp on the demographic and the circumstances of those incidents?

We simply must improve the way we collect and analyze data to see the true nature of what’s happening in our communities. Without complete and accurate data, we are left with ideological thunderbolts and that helps spark unrest and distrust and does not help us get better.

Because we must get better, I intend for the FBI to be the leader in urging departments around this country to give us the facts we need for informed discussion, the facts all of us need to help us make sound policy and sound decisions with that information.

(Narrator) representatives from major law enforcement organizations and local, state, tribal, and federal agencies have been working in collaboration with the FBI to develop the national use of force data collection.

This database will collect information about incidents in which force is used by a law enforcement officer that results in the death or serious bodily injury of a person or when a law enforcement officer discharges a firearm at or in the direction of a person.

The criminal justice information services advisory policy board approved a task force comprised of representatives from the law enforcement and data contributing communities.

Their focus was to determine the final scope and content of the national use of force data collection.

(Francis E. Bradley) all parts of this country are represented on this use of force task force.

Our committee is not only committed to providing answers, but to collect the data to answer to our people.

Being part of this task force has not only been an honor, but it also has taken in to account our country, every one of us. Me being from a small law enforcement agency of 18 people in Indian Country in rural America helps bring about all perspective for law enforcement not just our big city counterparts and all the rest of the medium sized agencies and everyone in law enforcement, it brings together all of us.

It wasn't about how big your gun is or how large your agency is or what you do in that agency, it was about the people who we represent.

(Gina Hawkins) we are a data driven society. Why would we not have this data for ourselves to utilize as a nation? That data enables us to evaluate our tactics, determine if we need better equipment for our use of force data, determine if we need any type of extra training, but more importantly what that data really does is allows us to be transparent in the force that we use in our everyday situations.

This transparency is not all the time easy. It may involve us owning up to we could have made a better decision.

We could have better policies.

We could have better tactics.

We could train better.

So being transparent leaves us vulnerable, but being vulnerable means that we want you to trust us because we need your support because we work for the community.

To be transparent is what builds the trust of the communities that we work for and that we work with.

(Bob Gulatieri) so one of the benefits to the national use of force reporting is that there'll be consistent information and that law enforcement is defining what is being collected, how it’s being collected and then how it can be analyzed and interpreted.

So there’s a huge benefit to all agencies. It’s very important that people know what we do and how we do it. Any time that information is not readily available is that that breeds skepticism.

Skepticism leads to distrust.

When people believe the information, they believe the person who’s delivering the information then they trust what you're doing.

(Douglas A. Middleton) What I hope this database will do is bring clarity. To bring clarity not only to the law enforcement community about what is actually happening and what they can do if anything to improve, but to bring clarity to our communities and that we can together with the community, with the organizations that can be supportive, with the law enforcement agencies find solutions to those things that bring stress on our society when it involves an action by a police officer.

So I think the clarity of what this will do is going to contribute greatly to bringing more peaceful resolutions to some of these problems because there will be a better understanding.

From my perspective what every law enforcement agency and particularly its CEO must ask him or herself why would i not put information in here. Because you're gonna have to articulate that to your communities if you choose not to be a part of this national database, this national system.

This is gonna give a means for every agency to push that same information into a database that gives a national picture, not just what your agency’s doing but something that helps you better see across our country and what we hope that that will do for CEOs is say you know maybe i need to look at something like this, maybe there’s a training thing here or maybe i could improve how we deliver this particular service by looking at the number of incidents of force that occur. So it'll create and stimulate i believe a dialog nationally that’s gonna serve us all in the end.

(Director Comey) Hi, I'm Jim Comey. We at the FBI are thrilled to be working with our law enforcement partners to build a national use of force data collection.

I truly believe we can't address issues about use of force and officer involved shootings if we don't know the facts that enable us to have an informed discussion.

Every conversation about policing at the national level is uninformed right now because we don't have the data. The only way this can happen and is happening is with the support of law enforcement leaders and cooperation across the country from agencies big and small.

We have FBI staff dedicated to being part of the solution and working with our partners to build a database and decide how and what information will be published.

I know this isn't easy. If it was easy it would have been done a long time ago, but we are so grateful for the law enforcement leaders who have shared their experiences and their ideas to make this a reality.

You are helping us build a tool that will make all of us better. And not only will the FBI be supporting the effort, but we will be among the federal law enforcement agencies that report our own use of force incidents.

It’s gonna take time to build the infrastructure and to get this done.

Let me again say thanks and tell you how pleased we are to be supporting these important efforts.

We hope each of you will get involved and stay involved and contribute your use of force data. The country will be better for it.

Thank you.


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