The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), which collects data voluntarily submitted by police departments, looked only at killings which police considered “justifiable homicide,” defined by the bureau as “the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.”
There were 461 justifiable homicides reported last year, up from 426 in 2012. But the limited figures pose another question: how many people do police really kill?
As Radley Balko writes at Washington Post, “[U]nofficial attempts to compile a more thorough count of killings by police have put the figure much, much higher —as many as 1,700 since May 2013, and more than 900 so far in 2014.”
The FBI’s numbers “are bullshit,” journalist D. Brian Burghart, who operates FatalEncounters.org, told Common Dreams. “They’re widely known to be inaccurate.” The only approach is for a non-governmental organization to collect the data, as Fatal Encounters, Killed by Police, the Gun Violence Archive, and other dedicated groups are doing, Burghart said.
There is no question that the numbers are wrong, Burghart said. “It’s just a question of how wrong they are.”