FBI now tracking police use-of-force cases

FBI tracking use of force

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -So far this year, at least 487 people have been shot and killed by police. Since 2015, The Washington Post has been tracking every fatal shooting nationwide by a police officer in the line of duty.

The latest shooting happened this week in Birmingham after police say 35-year-old Roderick Wilson robbed a convenience store then turned his gun on officers who were trying to catch him. Wilson was shot and killed on scene. Officer Cullen Stafford is still recovering after being shot multiple times.

"I think it’s a trend pretty much nationwide where individuals are getting guns and they decide to turn on the police department or anybody that interacts with them,” Lt. Richard Haluska, president of the Birmingham FOP Lodge #1 said.

This year, for the first time, the FBI is tracking when officers who have to use deadly force, in its national use of force data collection program. The program analyzes more than a dozen different factors about the officer and the person involved. Law enforcement believes it could improve training but some are skeptical about the success of the program.

"I think it’s important to remember there are more than 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies across the country, and it’s very difficult to systematically collect any type of data,” Phil Stinson, a criminologist with Bowling Green State University said.

Criminal justice professor Phil Stinson has tracked law enforcement misconduct for more than a decade. He’s also worked with the Department of Justice on data collection.

"There were prior efforts under the Clinton administration for the DOJ to collect data on police use of force incidents. That had several false starts, and eventually it was deemed a failure. They weren’t able to complete any of the data collection,” Stinson said.

This new reporting system is voluntary. Some major law enforcement organizations including the National Sheriffs Association are encouraging departments to use it. They feel it will lead to better training and transparency.

You can learn more about the new data collection system here: https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/use-of-force

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