For the past several years, the FBI has tried to collect information from police departments on their use of force, but it has yet to publish any reports because of lackluster participation from law enforcement. Now, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights says the Justice Department is stonewalling its attempts to get the reports submitted to the program, reports Reason. The FBI rejected its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and the main Justice Department denied the conference's appeal.
The FBI launched the program in 2019 to fill one of the biggest gaps in criminal justice data: how often and where police use force. After the Ferguson, Mo., police killing of Michael Brown in 2014, The Washington Post and several other news outlets and advocacy groups started building their own databases, because the federal government didn't track fatal police shootings in any rigorous way, much less routine uses of force like tasings and physical strikes. "Right now, police departments are not required to—and most do not—publicly report data, and what data does exist is often inconsistent and difficult to access," says the leadership conference's Sakira Cook.