FBI Vastly Undercounts Police-Related Killings

By Michael Nam

Gil C / Shutterstock.com

Recent independent data from The Guardian showed that Black Americans were twice as likely to be killed by police than white Americans despite a major difference in population sizes. The Guardian’s ongoing effort to count this year’s police-related deaths and a report from the Department of Justice shows just how unreliable the FBI’s data may actually be.

The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that nearly half of all police-related homicides are undercounted in the data collected from police:

The variation in methodologies resulted in a significant underestimate of the annual number of arrest-related deaths, including both homicides by law enforcement officers and other types of civilian deaths.

There are two significant factors limiting access to clear data on the number of deaths in police custody: the voluntary nature of reporting and the definition of what kind of deaths should be included in the reporting.

Only a small percentage of police agencies in the U.S. have reported fatal shootings by cops since 2011, and when expanding the definition of what kinds of deaths should be included in reports to the FBI, a huge difference in the number of police-related homicides can be seen as well, according to Business Insider.

BJS victimization statistics chief Michael Planty pegs the number at about928 per year on average over an eight-year span from 2003-2009 and 2011. For comparison, the FBI calculated 423 homicides per year on average over that same span.This 545-person gap in police homicides appears because the BJS report included the number of arrest-related deaths, or deaths that occur during an interaction with law enforcement personnel in the process of arrest or attempted arrest.

As of the posting of this story, The Guardian’s own count of deaths at the hands of police stands at staggering 512 with more than half of 2015 remaining.Thus far, 40 percent of unarmed individuals killed by police were Black (who make up only13 percent of the population) versus 37 percent that were white (63 percent of the population). While some pundits have argued that the death rate of Black menat the hands of police is understandable due to violent crime statistics showing that population to be both a greater threat and at greater risk, the same reasoningshould hold true when considering the lack of threat unarmed Blackpersons should imply to armedpolice officers.

Overall,the lack of an accurate and wide-ranging database has been detrimental in forming national policy on the issue of police brutality. The federal government being in the dark about how law enforcement is involved with homicides of all kinds has even reached the attention of lawmakers like Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Barbara Boxer, both of whom are attempting to change the reporting system.

“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,” Sen. Booker said in a statement.

The initiative by Booker and Boxer would require policing agencies to report to the Attorney General on “use of force incidents” including the following data:

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.

Where data on policing can be disaggregated, they have often showed significant racial bias, such as in the case of the number of shootings mentioned previously, or even in something less lethal such as targeted traffic stops in Ferguson and in Missouri as a whole.

Latest News

Novartis Chief Medical Officer John Tsai on Balancing Medical Innovations With Patient Needs

Originally published at novartis.com by Elizabeth Dougherty. John Tsai is Novartis’ Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer. Novartis Pharmaceuticals is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.   John Tsai’s career as a physician, and now as Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis, had an unlikely…

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed

City of Montgomery, Alabama Faces $25,000 State Fine for Changing Street Named After a Confederate Leader

Despite a state law designed to “protect” longstanding Confederate monuments and memorials, the city of Montgomery, Alabama, has decided that it would rather incur a fine than continue going on with a city street named after President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, Jefferson Davis. Kim Chandler of…

Global Diversity

Despite Massive Uptick in Global DEI Initiatives, New Study Reveals Real Change in Corporate Workforces Remains Slow 

Even though DEI as a business imperative continues to grow both in the United States and around the world, a new study has found that many business leaders and executives have merely raised awareness of why diversity, equity and inclusion is important — as opposed to actually making meaningful progress…

Novartis Collaborates With Microsoft To Innovate Medicine Through Data and Artificial Intelligence

Originally published on LinkedIn. Novartis Pharmaceuticals is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.   “We are not just discoverers. We actually create molecules that have never been made before.” Says Karin Briner, Head of Global Discovery Chemistry at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR). By collaborating with Microsoft and augmenting the expertise of our…

Mastercard Announces Launch of Crescent City Card Program in Partnership With New Orleans and MoCaFi

Originally published at mastercard.com. Mastercard ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was joined by executives from Mastercard, Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (MoCaFi), and Forward Together New Orleans to announce the Crescent City Card Program. The program involves a…

Mastercard on Supporting Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development by Expanding Its ‘City Possible’ Network

Originally published at mastercard.com. Mastercard ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Mastercard has continued to expand its support for addressing urban challenges and inequalities, working with city leaders and partners around the world, through the City Possible™ network and capabilities. The unique solutions…

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert Makes Anti-Muslim Comments Against Fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota

Following the horrific example of Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who posted an animated video depicting the killing of his congressional colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another member of the House of Representatives has made a similarly vile attack on a co-worker based purely on her religious beliefs. James Anderson of the…

Pinterest app

Pinterest Enacting New Company-Wide DEI Initiatives Following Gender and Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Following a lawsuit led by the General Treasurer of Rhode Island, social media company Pinterest has announced that it will be enacting a series of new diversity, equity and inclusion workplace reforms to settle a recent lawsuit against them. Patrick Anderson of The Providence Journal reported that “the reforms are…