2015 Anadolu Agency

Senators announce push for 'accountability' on police violence

Bill would require police departments to report any instances of death or serious injury to Justice Department

Two U.S. senators introduced a bill Tuesday that would require police departments to report any incidents in which an officer is involved in “use of force” that results in serious injury or death to the Justice Department.

The Police Reporting of Information, Data and Evidence Act “would bring transparency and accountability to law enforcement agencies nationwide,” according to a joint statement from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ.

“Too many members of the public and police officers are being killed, and we don’t have reliable statistics to track these tragic incidents,” Boxer said.

Under the proposed act, police forces would be required to document incidents in which an officer or a member of the public is killed or seriously wounded.

Booker said the bill would help address the issue of police violence by helping assess “the extent of the problem you have.” A slew of high-profile deaths of black civilians at the hands of mostly white police officers has driven communities angered at racial disparities in policing to the streets, most recently in Baltimore, after the death of 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray.

The proposed legislation comes after a pair of reports on the breadth of fatal police shootings. The Washington Post counted 385 killings, looking only at shooting deaths, while the Guardian tallied 465 so far this year — taking into account any deaths in confrontations between officers and civilians including the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July 2014.

“That number is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, because there are currently no comprehensive federal programs to collect data on law-enforcement involved shootings and use of force,” Boxer and Booker’s release said.

The bill would also require that demographic information — including race, gender and age — for the parties involved in violent confrontations with police be noted and submitted to the Justice Department.

In December, Congress reauthorized an act requiring that states report to the Justice Department instances where civilians are killed by police.

“Non-fatal shooting or use of force data is not captured” under the existing legislation, the release said.

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