News & Politics

DOJ to Monitor Use of Force by Police

(Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

Via The New York Times:

The Justice Department said Thursday that it would start collecting nationwide data early next year on police shootings and other violent encounters with the public, after a series of protests and investigations since 2014 spurred by a string of deadly episodes.

The project, the most ambitious the federal government has undertaken in tracking the use of force by police officers, is meant to fill what officials say is a huge and frustrating void in publicly available data on the shootings that have roiled the country.

Under the plan, the Justice Department will gather more data on the use of force by federal agents and help local departments report information on a wider range of police encounters.

But a number of the reporting steps will rely on local police officials to voluntarily submit data, and some civil rights advocates said the Justice Department had not made clear how it would impose financial penalties set by Congress to encourage the reporting of police shootings.

“I can’t believe two years into this crisis that we’re still having conversations about data,” said Kanya Bennett, a lawyer in Washington for the American Civil Liberties Union, which met with the Justice Department to discuss the plan.

With President Obama leaving office in three months, Ms. Bennett said, “this is essentially being punted to the next administration.”

It’s not really always a bad thing if the ACLU is mad. They’ve been lacking in focus for a very long time.

Obviously, it’s not a bad thing if Justice monitors things like this. As with almost all things federal, however, one has to ask, “You mean they weren’t doing that already?” I can’t walk to my bathroom without the feds keeping an eye on everything I do, why wouldn’t the agency headed by the chief law enforcement officer in the United States at least be collecting this sort of data?

With the Obama DOJ, this could easily become a witch hunt on cops, so maybe it’s a good thing that it is being “punted to the next administration.” The whole tone of this is a little too anti-cop, actually. The administration and the press love to finger-wag about “rhetoric” all of the time, maybe they should take their own advice. The gist of this seems to be all about the occasional bad cop, and doesn’t mention that a lot of the protest-inducing shootings happened to less-than-cooperative and/or savory people. The entire Ferguson riotfest was based on a lie, after all.

This will hopefully help local departments prove their points better, and maybe we’ll one day have a president who doesn’t reflexively side with criminals.