Toward a National Database of Officer-Involved Shootings

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Alpert, Geoffrey P
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2016
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Abstract

The plea to develop a national database on police use of (deadly) force or officer‐involved shootings (OIS) is not new, and Klinger, Rosenfeld, Isom, and Deckard (2016, this issue) do a good job of tracing the history of the requests and responses of practitioners, politicians, and researchers to the lack of information. Following their discussion of the prior attempts to put a national database together, they remark that, “In sum, the available data and prior research do not permit sound assessments of the social determinants of the use of deadly force by the police, racial disparities in police shootings, or the degree to which racial disparities may reflect biased or discriminatory police behavior. Therefore, they cannot serve as a reliable guide for policy evaluation—a pressing public priority in light of recent events.” By moving beyond the original request for a simple national reporting of OIS, they accurately identify the needs and benefits of such a reporting system. The purpose of this policy essay is to provide some background on the dismal state of affairs related to our knowledge of OIS, trace the government's attempts to compensate for it, introduce the importance of the media, argue along with Klinger et al. that such a database will improve our understanding, and take a giant step to assist in the reduction of unnecessary or unreasonable OIS.

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Criminology & Public Policy

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15

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1

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Criminology

Criminology not elsewhere classified

Policy and administration

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