Where Government Fails, Washington Post & Guardian UK Win

Where Government Fails, Washington Post & Guardian UK Win
A Second Term’ — The Washington Post November 7, 2012 Ron Cogswell / Flickr CC by 2.0

The Washington Post and Guardian UK have more accurate data of deaths in police custody or the use-of-force by police than the government. FBI director James B. Comey called this unacceptable and embarrassing.


Comey made the remark during the Summit on Violent Crime Reduction which The Washington Post had exclusively attended. In his remark, Comey stressed that the federal government’s data on police shootings pales in comparison with the data compiled by The Washington Post and the Gurdian newspaper.

“It is unacceptable that The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper from the U.K. are becoming the lead source of information about violent encounters between police and civilians. That is not good for anybody,” Comey said during the summit.

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Comey said it is also frustrating to find online data as specific as where to get tickets for “The Martian” movie; or as specific as CDC’s flu count more conveniently than to find data of incidents where police illegally used force against civilians.

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“It’s ridiculous — it’s embarrassing and ridiculous — that we can’t talk about crime in the same way, especially in the high-stakes incidents when your officers have to use force,” he said.

Both newspapers released their data this month. According to the data from The Washington Post, 759 people were shot dead by police this year, 28 of them were black and unarmed. There are at least 73 people who have been shot and killed by police across U.S. just within the past 30 days.

The data from the Guardian showed there were 891 people killed by police in the U.S. The data includes Hispanic and Latino which makes 2.42 percent. The Guardian’s data showed that 2.09 percent of Whites were killed by police while an alarming 5.19 percent black died in the hands of police.

On Monday, the Department of Justice acknowledged the need for national, consistent data on police interactions with the community; especially data on the use-of-force. According to Attorney general Loretta E. Lynch, the federal authorities publish annual figures on the number of “justifiable homicides” involving police. However, the reports, which are submitted voluntarily by police departments, are incomplete.

“The department’s position and the administration’s position has consistently been that we need to have national, consistent data. This information is useful because it helps us see trends, it helps us promote accountability and transparency,” Attorney General Lynch said in a statement.

“We’re also going further in developing standards for publishing information about deaths in custody as well, because transparency and accountability are helped by this kind of national data,” Lynch stressed.

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