February 3, 2014

Here’s a pitch for a procedural: Cops track down the number of police shootings in the United States in a given year. Why should that require any detective work? It’s that there are currently no national statistics on how many people are shot by police each year.

In some areas, such as Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Massachusetts, police shootings have increased, according to a report in Salon. Whether those numbers can be extrapolated to a national trend is not known though. Police departments are not required to release data on how many civilians are shot by officers each year and many don’t.

Some observers believe that there are more police shootings than there had been five or 10 years ago. Those who want to hold police accountable are stymied by the lack of nationwide statistics on the issue.

So, we’re left to try to find the information on our own. Jim Fisher tried in 2012. According to his True Crime blog, in 2011, 1,146 people were shot by police, with 607 killed. To come up with those numbers, Fisher scoured the Internet for data about every shooting that year. But that system is not comprehensive.

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