The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] released a statement [text] Thursday outlining plans to collect data on the use of force by police officers from across the nation. Attorney General Loretta Lynch [official profile] described the project as focusing broadly on officer-civilian interactions, while encompassing use of force. The plan is guided by the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) [materials]. The DCRA requires law enforcement agencies to report all civilian deaths resulting from police interactions or occurring in their custody. The new data collection project was created to record non-lethal interactions in addition to those monitored by the DCRA. Lynch said the initiative is aimed at increasing transparency while building trust between officers and their communities.
The data collection comes after years of concern over violence between law enforcement and civilians in the US. In September the DOJ opened an investigation into the fatal police shooting of Terence Crutcher [JURIST report]. In July local groups and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department for violating the First Amendment rights of protesters who were peacefully protesting the police killing of Alton Sterling [JURIST report]. Also in July the Attorney General gave her response to the shooting of police officers [JURIST report] in Dallas during a peaceful protest of recent police shootings of Sterling and Philando Castille. In December an Ohio grand jury decided not to indict [JURIST report] two officers involved in a 2014 shooting resulting in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.