A new bill aims to increase police accountability by requiring states to report all shootings by police officers to the Justice Department.
The bill, introduced Tuesday by two Democratic senators, Barbara Boxer of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, would cover both fatal and non-fatal shootings by police, as well as other instances of police using deadly force, the senators announced.
The legislation comes on the heels of unrest in several cities across the country in response to what protesters see as excessive police force and a lack of police accountability in the justice system, most recently in Baltimore after Freddie Gray died of an injury sustained in police custody. Under the legislation, states would be required to report the age, gender and race of any person seriously injured or killed by police, as well as whether the person was armed.
Civil rights activists have long pointed to a lack of accurate or comprehensive data on how many people are killed annually by police officers in the U.S. Both the Post and The Guardian have recently announced projects that aim to tally all deaths at the hands of American police.
Last week, the Post reported that at least 385 people have been shot and killed by police nationwide since the beginning of this year. If the trend continues, the U.S. will have more than double the number of fatal police shootings this year compared to the number the federal government has reported as the yearly average, based on limited self-reported data.
“Without reliable data it’s difficult to hold people accountable or create effective policies that change the status quo,” Booker said in a statement.
Boxer, in a statement on her website, said the data the FBI currently collects is not sufficient.
“Too many members of the public and police officers are being killed, and we don’t have reliable data to track these tragic incidents,” Boxer said in the statement. “This bill will ensure that we know the full extent of the problem so we can save lives on all sides.”