|Anthony Freda Art|
By Joe Wright
The escalation of police brutality continues unchecked across the United States. Literally unchecked, according to the video report and sources posted below.
Citing the Bureau of Justice Statistics data collection of “Arrest-Related Deaths”, it is clear that reports involving potential police misconduct – even including deaths – are submitted on a completely voluntary basis, which has resulted in glaring holes and a long delay in those submissions that are offered.
The exclusions and submission process are telling:
The deaths of innocent bystanders, hostages, and law enforcement personnel were excluded from the scope of the ARD program. In addition, all deaths occurring in a jail or other long-term holding facility, state prison, or juvenile correctional facility were excluded from the ARD data collection. Deaths occurring in the custody of federal law enforcement agencies (i.e., FBI, DEA, or Marshals Service) were only reportable to the ARD program if the death, or incident causing the death, occurred in the presence of state or local law enforcement personnel.
Role of State Reporting Coordinators
Participation in the Arrest-Related Deaths program is voluntary, meaning neither law enforcement agencies nor states are required to submit ARD data to BJS. As such, BJS relies on the assistance of State Reporting Coordinators (SRCs) to gather records on all arrest-related deaths statewide…. (emphasis added)
When the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act of 2000 was enacted, only two states conducted a statewide count of all arrest-related deaths (California and Texas, each pursuant to State law). In the remaining 48 states and the District of Columbia, the ARD program was the first attempt to perform a comprehensive count of all deaths occurring during the process of arrest. The attorneys general of California and Texas agreed to complete statewide reports of arrest-related deaths for submission to BJS. In all other jurisdictions, BJS worked with state officials to determine which agency would collect arrest-related death reports.
During reporting year 2006, a state criminal justice commission, commonly administered by the governor’s office was the most common data reporting contact (22 states), followed by the state attorney general and state police department (8 states each) (see table 1). In five states, the department of corrections took a lead role in compiling records. In over 30 states, the reporting office also served as a state criminal justice Statistical Analysis Center (SAC). (Source and full report)
As we see the current explosion taking place in Missouri – which includes a new report that police will not release the officer’s name who killed Michael Brown – and the continued fallout from the much-maligned Albuquerque Police Department (with a minimal but still revealing DoJ investigation that followed), it is clear that there is very little in place to hold law enforcement accountable.
As these departments continue to be enhanced with weapons of war and given carte blanche for no-knock death squad SWAT raids, we are likely to see a continued escalation of those with absolute power becoming corrupted absolutely.
For many, the killing of unarmed Missouri teen Michael Brown brings to mind other instances where officers used deadly force.
“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”
Law enforcement is the only non-military career in the country that offers that power, the use of deadly force, yet its practice remains un-monitored on a national scale and in most states around the country.
While the FBI keeps information annually on hate crimes, aggravated assault and officers killed in the line of duty there is no complete database tracking the police’s use of force.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics has an ‘Arrest-Related Death Report’ but law offices around the country aren’t required to fill it out and a lot of them don’t. As the report notes, Georgia, Maryland and Montana didn’t submit one report for six years.
Now, in the off chance your city or state does compile the information, history says you won’t like the results.
Back in April the DOJ investigated the Albuquerque Police Department’s use of force after the APD shot and killed an armed homeless man. They found the officers “too frequently use deadly force.”
“Hey! Hey! Hey! Put the knife down!” Put the knife down! Put the knife down!
A similar investigation was conducted in Seattle, where the Department of Justice ruled that when the Seattle Police Department used force, it was done in an unconstitutional and excessive manner, nearly 20 percent of the time.
And in St. Louis, where Michael Brown was killed, a similar report from 2012. (Video via MSNBC)
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “On a straight per capita basis, St. Louis officers fired up to eight times more often than others. … From January 2007 through Sept. 30, 2011, the department cleared more than 96 percent of the shootings by officers.”
After a long night of unrest in St. Louis county, it seems the FBI will open a parallel investigation of the shooting but unlike most violence in and around the country this investigation will not be placed in a broader context or a broader conversation because the information simply isn’t there. (Video via CNN)
The video contains images from Getty Images.
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