HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » What I've Learned from Tw...

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 07:07 AM

What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

I've been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They've blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency.


http://gawker.com/what-ive-learned-from-two-years-collecting-data-on-poli-1625472836

What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

382,354324

D. Brian Burghart
Filed to: POLICE BRUTALITY
COPS
DEATHS
PROJECTS
8/22/14 1:25pm

A few days ago, Deadspin's Kyle Wagner began to compile a list of all police-involved shootings in the U.S. He's not the only one to undertake such a project: D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowdsourced national database of deadly police violence. We asked Brian to write about what he's learned from his project.

It began simply enough. Commuting home from my work at Reno's alt-weekly newspaper, the News & Review, on May 18, 2012, I drove past the aftermath of a police shooting—in this case, that of a man named Jace Herndon. It was a chaotic scene, and I couldn't help but wonder how often it happened.

I went home and grabbed my laptop and a glass of wine and tried to find out. I found nothing—a failure I simply chalked up to incompetent local media.

- snip -

I started to search in earnest. Nowhere could I find out how many people died during interactions with police in the United States. Try as I might, I just couldn't wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn't being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn't have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know "best practices" for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn't.

- snip -

Database & Last Name Check
Read more fatalencounters.​org
The biggest thing I've taken away from this project is something I'll never be able to prove, but I'm convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

It's the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn't collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

I've been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They've blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law.

The second biggest thing I learned is that bad journalism colludes with police to hide this information. The primary reason for this is that police will cut off information to reporters who tell tales. And a reporter can't work if he or she can't talk to sources. It happened to me on almost every level as I advanced this year-long Fatal Encounters series through the News & Review. First they talk; then they stop, then they roadblock.

MORE

46 replies, 10239 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 46 replies Author Time Post
Reply What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings (Original post)
Hissyspit Dec 2014 OP
cantbeserious Dec 2014 #1
malaise Dec 2014 #2
sammy750 Dec 2014 #3
Callmecrazy Dec 2014 #4
Speed8098 Dec 2014 #6
Callmecrazy Dec 2014 #7
maindawg Dec 2014 #8
Callmecrazy Dec 2014 #22
pasto76 Dec 2014 #35
eomer Dec 2014 #10
Comrade Grumpy Dec 2014 #24
Jackpine Radical Dec 2014 #28
eomer Dec 2014 #42
ncjustice80 Dec 2014 #14
Callmecrazy Dec 2014 #25
ncjustice80 Dec 2014 #27
Callmecrazy Dec 2014 #29
ncjustice80 Dec 2014 #36
Munificence Dec 2014 #43
Enthusiast Dec 2014 #11
Callmecrazy Dec 2014 #23
Enthusiast Dec 2014 #32
RufusTFirefly Dec 2014 #30
LineReply ,
blkmusclmachine Dec 2014 #5
Scuba Dec 2014 #9
woo me with science Dec 2014 #34
Enthusiast Dec 2014 #12
marym625 Dec 2014 #13
avebury Dec 2014 #15
ChiciB1 Dec 2014 #16
Ms. Toad Dec 2014 #20
truedelphi Dec 2014 #39
ChiciB1 Dec 2014 #46
Dustlawyer Dec 2014 #17
lonestarnot Dec 2014 #18
Ms. Toad Dec 2014 #19
KingCharlemagne Dec 2014 #21
sabrina 1 Dec 2014 #26
jayschool Dec 2014 #31
mwooldri Dec 2014 #33
Liberal_in_LA Dec 2014 #37
pa28 Dec 2014 #38
MoreGOPoop Dec 2014 #40
99th_Monkey Dec 2014 #41
daleanime Dec 2014 #44
blackspade Dec 2014 #45

Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 07:28 AM

1. Thank You For Sharing

eom

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 07:31 AM

2. Amazing that there are databases in some of the Anglophone

Caribbean islands.

Excellent article - thanks Hissyspit

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 07:49 AM

3. The police in the USA are worst then those under Russia Pres. Putin.

Americans don't live in a Democracy. We live in a police and GOP control nation. It will get worst unless smart people wise up and make changes.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to sammy750 (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 08:28 AM

4. It's not just GOP...

Don't kid yourself... There are plenty of liberal dirty cops out there as well.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:08 AM

6. And you felt the compelling need to post that because???

What's your point?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Speed8098 (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:16 AM

7. I was responding to the comment...

that its a GOP controlled nation and police state. There's plenty of Liberal controlled police agencies that are thumping on civilians too. Saying it's the GOP's fault is painting with too broad a brush.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:43 AM

8. That is by definition

 

ridiculous.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to maindawg (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 01:34 PM

22. Why?

Just because you say it, don't make it so.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to maindawg (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 05:12 PM

35. wow, hyperbole much?

'by definition' really.

your post says that every cop that has ever killed someone is conservative. Wow that would be quite a conspiracy.

So you dont know anything about socio and psychological factors contributing to killing someone. How adverse, as a species, we really are about killing one another. There are a TON of psychological pressures and influencing required to get people to actually shoot someone. Keep in mind Im a veteran of the iraq war, have a biology degree and have read constantly since 2004 about killing psychology. So I can speak firsthand about how powerful the 'protect your own' and/or 'protect the department/institution' pressures might be. To jump to a conclusion along the lines of your statement, if conservatives are so bad, how could a 'liberal' take a stand or speak out and not lose his job, not lose his career. If you cant acknowledge those pressures and fears exist, you're kidding yourself.

if this data were ever compiled there would be plenty of 'liberal' and non conservative police in there too.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:49 AM

10. What do you mean by "Liberal controlled police agencies"?`

Clearly the liberal position is against wanton killing of people by police. So if a police agency is really controlled by liberals, effectively controlled, then they won't be wantonly killing people.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to eomer (Reply #10)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 01:41 PM

24. The mayor of New York City is a liberal. For instance.

 

I think the poster was making the point that abusive policing doesn't just happen in cities or states where the GOP is in power. And that's certainly true.

Your point is interesting, though, too, and it goes to the issue of effective civilian control of police. Why is it that some places with liberal leadership have police running amok?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #24)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 02:29 PM

28. That would be an interesting list to see.

You could test all sorts of hypotheses with the information contained in a list like that.

You could look at city demographics, at budgets, at local media messaging, etc. You could measure the effects of police body cameras as they come in, city by city. You could look at the characteristics (e.g. training) of "good" versus "bad" police forces.

I have no time or resources to do that study, but it would be very interesting.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #24)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 06:48 PM

42. Right, that's a good question. In the case of NYC, de Blasio has been major just 11 months.

I'm not especially familiar with NYC issues but I assume we don't yet fully know what changes will occur due to the first Democrat to be NYC mayor in 20 years. Especially with so much controversy right now to give him leverage I hope that de Blasio will try to make some changes (and in the right direction). And then I guess we'll find out whether civilian control of the NYPD is or is not only the case when there's a conservative in office with whose policy choices police would likely agree.

In other places and situations we would need to discuss what we mean by "liberal". There are lots of politicians who aren't really liberals, they just play one on TV. Or they are liberal on some issues while being in the "law and order" camp on policies of policing. So we would need to distinguish between having a politician in control who is liberal on policing issues and one who is conservative on policing but liberal on some other things. Also would have to allow for politicians who are liars (most of them).

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 10:06 AM

14. They are Rethuglicans of they behave that way.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ncjustice80 (Reply #14)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 01:42 PM

25. What? Why?

Because you're a liberal? I'm a Democrat and I see it all the time.
I don't blindly follow the party line.


spell check much?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #25)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 02:03 PM

27. Wow, you re right. A single typo invalidates my entire argument.

You win the internet! Congratulations

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ncjustice80 (Reply #27)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 02:33 PM

29. I guess so...

since you couldn't answer my question.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #29)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 05:26 PM

36. Your "question" is ridiculous and not worth replying to.

Enjoy your stay.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #25)


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:50 AM

11. If they're dirty cops, they aren't liberal.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Enthusiast (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 01:37 PM

23. Whatever...

I'm not into group think, so I'll stop here.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #23)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 03:50 PM

32. I'm an expert on liberals. I am one. I know how they are.

We can't be dirty cops. We leave that to the right wing, gun nut, racist asshole types.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Enthusiast (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 02:51 PM

30. No true Scotsman n/t

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:07 AM

5. ,

 

,

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:44 AM

9. "The lack of such a database is intentional."

 

No shit.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Scuba (Reply #9)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 03:59 PM

34. ^^^^^^I was just about to make the very same post.^^^^^^

That's the centerpiece line.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:52 AM

12. Kicked and recommended! Let's give this thread the attention it deserves!

Thanks, Hissyspit.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 10:01 AM

13. Thank you!

That's exactly what every publication and reporter has been running into. It's ludicrous.

Here's an article I have cited a few times regarding this subject. They used the CDC, FBI, DOJ and still can't get the truth. The article cites other publications trying to get answers and running into the same frustration


http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/police-shootings-ferguson-race-data

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 10:09 AM

15. K&R nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 10:33 AM

16. So Much Information To Delve Into...

Bookmarking for my reference. My problem is that TOO MANY PEOPLE just can't take enough time to even listen to me when I talk about this situation. My own family even tells me I'm too obsessed and need "other outlets" that won't disturb me!

It infuriates me to no end and I have so much bottled up inside me when it comes to trying to inform others. I have grandchildren and wonder what they will have to deal with in the future. There are days I can almost convince myself that in time they will "see the light" and fight back. But mostly I think I live in a world of See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil! To me what I see and hear on a daily basis DOES fill my head with all types of information I want to share, but as I said the conversations with others are very slim.

I could list the excuses they give me, they are long and I do understand that people work, go to school and their time is limited when it comes to digging deeper into problems. Still, I have a feeling that I need to tape my mouth shut because very few people will sit down and listen.

But, I WILL sit down and read this, feel very outraged and probably lose some sleep over it. I do want to thank you for spending so much time on your end and for posting this. I know we use so little of our brains so I'm sure I can log it into a place up there and perhaps have a chance to make others aware.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ChiciB1 (Reply #16)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 11:07 AM

20. At the cost of 25 minutes or so of time,

you can give those who don't think they have enough time to do anything a way to be useful.

The database is actively seeking crowdsource help (although the directions in the article are incomplete).

Go here (direct your friends here) to complete the data for one person who was killed by police - about a 25 minute effort.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ChiciB1 (Reply #16)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 05:51 PM

39. Keep trying and trying.

At times, modern day life breaks your heart. But it is important to keep trying.

I lose hope and then some innocuous post on a website rekindles my hope. When I read some years back that Malia asked the Prsident what he was doing about the massive BP oil leak into the ocean, that gave me hope. Go Malia!

And remember to give yourself a break occasionally from the mess that is the outer world. If you stay focused on the outer world, you don't see that 8 yr old kid doing somersaults in the first winter's snow. Or the middle aged volunteer coming into the elder home and reading Christmas stories to the clients there.

In any event,



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to truedelphi (Reply #39)

Mon Dec 8, 2014, 09:51 AM

46. So Very True... I Need To Re-Learn HOW

to enjoy so many things, the small things for sure. So many days I wake up and wonder if I'm really ready or willing to face another 24 hrs. I feel like a drop of water in the ocean and it feels so defeating. Not good for sure.

Last night I watched what must have been Robins William's last movie, not sure though. It was called The Face Of Love, nothing Like I thought was going to be, but it was very thought provoking. Ed Harris, Annette Bening and Robin Williams, whose part wasn't that large, but I related to the movie because my life seemed to mirror so much of what it conveyed. Phrases said and actions taken were so thought provoking. Knowing Williams committed suicide I wondered if this movie was part of it all.

Perhaps not Academy Award worthy, but given my age and those in the movie are where I'm at. At one point in the movie Ed Harris' character said something about looking into a mirror and wondering about where had the time gone, what will never be again in life and memories of it all. Not exact words, but I know I've looked into the same mirror and had similar thoughts.

And one for you too

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 10:37 AM

17. Sounds like a job Congress COULD DO. I didn't say would do because we all know that they won't.

They could put teeth in the reporting law. The Chief could be required to designate someone to keep track and release the incidents as they occur and sanction the chief if they don't.

I used to work with a police organization (16,000 law enforcement officers strong) providing legal defense in cases where they shot someone, or were under a legal investigation as a result of the performance of their jobs. I learned a lot! I went on "ride-a-longs, went to their conventions, and their continuing education classes. What I learned was that for all intents and purposes they are all Republicans. The Democrats would secretly come to me and tell me that they could not be openly Democrat or they would be ostracized and worse. I was openly Democrat, but they tolerated me because of what I did for them. I never took a case I wasn't comfortable with since I was doing it pro bono.
When going on the ride-a-longs I became friends with a patrol Sargent who explained that they do have a problem with the people attracted to the job for the sheer power trip nature of the job. People who only feel better if they are inflicting pain and misery on others. They also have the steroid, body builder group who all were extremely short tempered. He flat out told me that if an officer were to cross the thin blue line they were risking their lives, not just their careers. When I told him how wrong that is he asked me how I would fix this. I had no answer that I thought would work. He genuinely wanted to know because he hated, as do many officers, covering for an ashore or worse. Not everyone is willing to be Serpico, especially when they have family's. He said that the best they could come up with is isolating the bad apple and making them worry about whether officers would be quick to back them up. While it was acceptable for them to do this, it would not be acceptable to fire them publicly or turn them in for violations of the law.
This is all from a man that had his neck broken by a drunk driver while approaching a stolen car on the highway, and who had to shoot a former H.S. friend who committed suicide by cop by forcing my friend to shoot him. He is haunted by this to this day.
I told him that he could fix a lot of this if he got the Sheriff and the rest of the guys who had a problem with protecting all of the bad apples. I would tell them all this at the conventions and I didn't care about the threats I got when I did. My sheriff buddies from my area told everyone I was one of them which gave me some comfort. I was just labeled the crazy Librul ambulance chaser.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dustlawyer (Reply #17)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 10:41 AM

18. First action they will take is reduce their work to 2.5 days per month.

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 11:04 AM

19. Crowdsource the database

http://www.fatalencounters.org/how-to-help/

Much of the information in the database is incomplete - the above link can be used to help complete it! Let's put DU energy on this issue to good use!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #19)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 11:15 AM

21. Thanks for the link (and the prod). Bookmarked for review later today. I don't have

 

any personal knowledge of anyone killed by law enforcement, so I'm not sure what I'll be able to contribute. But I will take a look.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 01:47 PM

26. They are not the only ones who have learned that there is no data on the murder of US Citizens

by the police. I am so glad that finally this issue is getting some attention.

No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.


This should become a project, to find the names of all the victims of police brutality and give them the respect they deserve.

It's no surprise they don't want the people to know what they are doing.

I am beginning to think we need an outside intervention in this country. Our government doesn't seem to be interested in much about these horrendous crimes against their own people.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 03:34 PM

31. Colorado under-reports officer-involved shootings

Just like every other state.

CU News Corps

Muddled coroners reports are partly to blame.

CU News Corps again

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 03:51 PM

33. Wikipedia...

It has an index page by year and month categorizing each human death that involved law enforcement officers - irrespective of whether the intervention was warranted or not. Canada has its list on one page. The UK's page is quite slim.

If the entire combined police forces in the United Kingdom fired less rounds this year than that ex-officer in Ferguson in one incident, and if the number of deaths involving law enforcement for this month alone is approaching the number the UK has had since 2001.... what does that tell you?

Enough said.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 05:33 PM

37. Last about the last paragraph - the reason your locat news says things like "Police were forced to .

 

"police were forced to shoot... "Police had no choice ... " etc. they'll be cut off if they imply anything negative about police actions

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 05:44 PM

38. Great project. Gathering facts is going to be the first step in exposing our cop problem.

I like the fact the officers involved are named as well.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 06:07 PM

40. K & R

The totals will most likely stun & motivate the People of the World. I've
contended the last couple years that we are but one WikiLeak away from
pitchforks. Thanks for this hugely important post, Hissyspit.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 06:19 PM

41. K&R nt

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 09:14 PM

44. K&R....

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hissyspit (Original post)

Sun Dec 7, 2014, 10:24 PM

45. Of course they lie and hide info.

Otherwise people would be even more outraged that they currently are!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread