The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation will begin collecting data on police-involved shootings and other incidents of lethal and nonlethal force by early next year, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
FBI and Justice Department leaders say better information on police use of force is essential to build community trust and promote transparency.
Demands for more information have surfaced in the last two years amid a series of high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police officers. But the federal government has been unable to say reliably just how often fatal encounters between law enforcement and civilians occur across the country.
The FBI began working on an online portal for local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement to gather use-of-force data in 2015.
“Accurate and comprehensive data on the use of force by law enforcement is essential to an informed and productive discussion about community-police relations,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.
“In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue to work alongside our local, state, tribal and federal partners to ensure that we put in place a system to collect data that is comprehensive, useful, and responsive to the needs of the communities we serve.”
The FBI plans to begin a pilot program early next year that would gather more complete use-of-force data, including information on cases that don’t result in death. The earliest participants would be the largest law enforcement agencies, as well as major federal agencies, such as the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Though there’s no legal requirement for law enforcement agencies to provide information on police use of force that doesn’t result in death, the Justice Department said it’s requesting local agencies disclose details on even nonfatal encounters.