Why Are There No Good Data On Police Use Of Force?
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently ran an editorialpraising a new program by University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist David Klinger that will track, analyze the city’s police-involved shootings. This comes on the heels of a study Klinger authored on the same topic finding that the city had improved the way it investigates police shootings, but that the police department is still too opaque about those investigations.
This is pretty typical, as is the fact that attempts to make the department more transparent about officer-involved shootings has been strongly opposed by the police union. Last year, an investigative series Las Vegas Review-Journal found that officer shootings were always deemed justified, even in cases where they pretty clearly weren’t. That led to a federal civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice. The DOJ report,released last month, came down hard on the city.
It could well be that most or even nearly all officer-involved shootings really are justified. The problem is that when police departments shut down the flow of information, when cops are in charge of investigating other cops, and when the blue code is still openly embraced and enforced, few outside of law enforcement are going to trust the integrity of these investigations.
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