DOJ is failing to report police UOF data, government office says

The troubles come from a lack of data and a failure to assign responsibilities, a new report says


By Suzie Ziegler 

WASHINGTON — A new report from the U.S. Government of Accountability Office (GAO) says that a federal, police use-of-force database is not meeting expectations. According to the report, the Department of Justice failed to consistently publish a yearly summary of police excessive force data from 2016-2020, as required by federal law. 

“This data is crucial to efforts to reduce excessive force, according to law enforcement and civil rights organization representatives, and others we interviewed,” the report reads in part. “We also found that DOJ could do a better job of sharing information within the department on excessive force allegations and investigations.” 

According to Axios, part of this failing is because DOJ officials failed to assign responsibilities for publishing the data. 

The GOA report also describes a new data collection effort by the FBI in 2019, called the National Use-of-Force Data Collection. For that project, police agencies across the country were encouraged to submit details about every use-of-force incident. However, according to The Washington Post, the program is in endanger of shutting down due to a lack of voluntary reporting from police agencies.  

“Due to insufficient participation from law enforcement agencies,” the GAO report says, “the FBI faces risks that it may not meet the participation thresholds and therefore may never publish use of force incident data.” 

Going forward, the GOA has made 11 recommendations to improve data collection and summaries. 

See here to read the full GOA report.

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