The FBI announced Tuesday it will launch a new system to track fatal police shootings. The system, which will be in place by 2017, will be a major improvement from what a senior FBI official called a "travesty," according to the Washington Post.
The agency plans to implement a system that will expand the database of information to include any incident where a civilian was seriously injured by law enforcement. Stephen L. Morris, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, said the effort was prompted by demonstrations across the country in the last year protesting police brutality.
“We are responding to a real human outcry,” Morris said. “People want to know what police are doing, and they want to know why they are using force. It always fell to the bottom before. It is now the highest priority.”
Instead of annual reports, Morris told reporters that the data will be made available to the public in "near real time." However, the new system will require the cooperation of local law enforcement to report crimes to the FBI, the Atlantic reported.
David Klinger, a professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, who has pushed for more comprehensive data, told the Washington Post he welcomed the new system, but had concerns.
“The devil is in the details,” Klinger said. “When agents of the state put bullets downrange in citizens, we need to know about that. In a representative democracy, we need to know about that. We are citizens, not subjects. We also need to understand the circumstances of the shootings, so we spot trends, so we can improve training.”
PSA: new FBI police-shooting data will be more granular but will STILL BE VOLUNTARY, which is big prob w/status quo. https://t.co/FSKtF4fujv
— Dara (@DLind) December 9, 2015
Others took to Twitter to express their skepticism of the new system. "new FBI police-shooting data will be more granular but will STILL BE VOLUNTARY, which is big prob w/status quo," Vox reporter Dara Lind tweeted.
The Guardian and the Washington Post both have launched their own online databases that track fatal police shootings.