Booker, Boxer Introduce Bill to Bring Transparency and Accountability to Police Departments Nationwide
Legislation Would Ensure Incidents Involving Use of Force By or Against Law Enforcement Are Reported, in Order to Help Reduce ThemJune 2, 2015
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today introduced the Police Reporting of Information, Data and Evidence Act – legislation that would bring transparency and accountability to law enforcement agencies nationwide by requiring states to report to the Justice Department on any incident in which a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting, and any other instance where use of force by or against a law enforcement officer or civilian results in serious bodily injury or death. This information would help federal, state and local officials to better protect the public and law enforcement officers.
The PRIDE Act was introduced the same week that a Washington Post report revealed that 385 people were shot and killed by police nationwide since January – more than two a day. That number is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, because there are currently no comprehensive federal programs to collect data on law enforcement-involved shootings and use of force. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) captures data on justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers, but reporting is voluntary and limited to instances in which a civilian is killed while committing a felony.
Similarly, there is no mandated reporting to the federal government on law enforcement officers killed or injured in the line of duty. So far, 54 officers have been killed in the line of duty and 14 officers have been shot and killed by suspects since January, according to data compiled by the Officer Down Memorial Page.
“The first step in fixing a problem is understanding the extent of the problem you have. Justice and accountability go hand in hand -- but without reliable data it’s difficult to hold people accountable or create effective policies that change the status quo,” Senator Booker said. “Our legislation is vital to ensuring we have the data required to make good decisions and implement reform measures that are balanced, objective, and protect the lives of police officers and the public.”
“Too many members of the public and police officers are being killed, and we don’t have reliable statistics to track these tragic incidents,” Senator Boxer said. “This bill will ensure that we know the full extent of the problem so we can save lives on all sides.”
The Boxer-Booker measure would require states to report to the Attorney General on use-of-force incidents involving officers and the public that result in serious bodily injury or death. The reports must include, at a minimum:
- The gender, race, ethnicity, and age of each individual who was shot, injured, or killed;
- The date, time, and location of the incident;
- The number of officers and number of civilians involved in the incident;
- Whether the civilian was armed with a weapon; and
- The type of force used against the officer, the civilian, or both, including the types of weapons used.
Additionally, the bill would provide grants for tip lines and hotlines to gain information regarding shootings and use of force incidents against the police. Grants may also support state efforts to develop use of force training for law enforcement agencies and personnel, including de-escalation and bias training.
There is growing momentum for better data collection on the use of force in police departments nationwide.
Last December, Congress reauthorized the Death in Custody Reporting Act, which requires states to report to DOJ any time a civilian is killed by a police officer while in custody or during the course of an arrest. However, any non-fatal shooting or use of force data is not captured. Also in December, a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 105 of the largest police agencies in the country released in December of last year found that more than 550 incidents of civilians killed in police custody went unreported between 2007 and 2012.
In January, then-Attorney General Eric Holder urged improved data reporting on the shootings of – and use of force by – law enforcement officers, saying, “The troubling reality is that we lack the ability right now to comprehensively track the number of incidents of either uses of force directed at police officers or uses of force by police.”
And last month, President Obama announced the White House Police Data Initiative; 21 police departments nationwide – including the Richmond, Oakland, Los Angeles and Los Angeles County police departments in California – have agreed to release data on use of force, pedestrian and vehicle stops, and officer-involved shootings.