July 01, 2015

Since 1976, the FBI hasn’t counted more than 460 fatal police shootings in a year. We’ve counted 462 already in 2015.

As a national debate continues over the use of deadly force by police, particularly against minorities, The Post is tracking every fatal shooting by a police officer acting in the line of duty in 2015.
Six months into the year, The Post’s database has confirmed 462 fatal shootings by police.
One of the primary reasons The Post is collecting this data is that the currently available tallies of fatal police shootings are woefully inadequate and incomplete.
The primary source of police shooting data — often cited in news reports — is compiled by the FBI. But because reporting is voluntary, many of the nation’s police departments do not report — including entire states. Since 2011, less than 3 percent of the nation’s 18,000 state and local police agencies have reported fatal shootings by their officers.
Through the first half of 2015, The Post has already identified more fatal police shootings than the FBI has recorded in any entire year since 1976.
Experts and academics who study police use of force say that undercounting makes those numbers gathered by the government relatively useless, and underscores the need for more comprehensive data collection about police use of force.
Following The Post’s reporting and a similar attempt to track deaths at the hands of police conducted by the Guardian, two Democratic senators introduced legislation to require more accurate data be collected by the Department of Justice. Yet, with Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate, it remains unclear whether the bill will gain traction or has a realistic pathway to law.

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