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New System Will Force Police Departments to Document Arrest-Related Deaths

By Peek & Toland on October 10, 2016

Police departments will be forced to report arrest-related deaths in the aftermath of a furor over police shootings across the United States.

Federal officials announced a new program for documenting all “arrest-related deaths,” reported The Guardian.

The move follows a summer of discontent and allegations of racism directed against police departments after a series of high-profile killings by officers. Our experienced Austin criminal defense attorneys look closely at any claims that race was a motivating factor in arrests or police shootings.

Feds will keep tabls on arrest-related deaths

There’s a new requirement for police departments to provide the US justice department with quarterly figures about deadly incidents, the Guardian reported. The move signals a tougher approach by federal authorities in holding police departments accountable.

The Guardian is documenting every death caused by officers over the last two years. It described the existing count by the FBI as “discredited.”

Arrest-related deaths made news headlines and were linked to civil disturbances since 2014. That’s when Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, MO.

However, even as riots followed the deaths of black men in Ferguson and Baltimore, the federal government shied away from setting up a comprehensive record of killings by police officers. The Guardian reported the federal counting system only recorded half of police killings.

The new system will see almost 20,000 law enforcement agencies receiving a form that requires information on all arrest-related deaths in the past quarter.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics wants to see deaths by firearms, Tasers, and even some vehicle crashes.

The BJS will note deaths that have been reported by the media. There will be space for local police departments to note deaths that they have not yet reported.

Arrest-Related Deaths that Caused Outcry

Two incidents this summer sparked protests across the country.

Alton Sterling was shot dead during a confrontation with two police officers outside a Baton Rouge, La. Cellphone video of the incident was posted online by a community activist, setting off angry protests.

Philando Castile, 32, was shot dead a day later in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was in a car with a woman and a child. A widely-shared Facebook video showed him with a bloody shirt.

In September, the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott sparked disturbances in Charlotte, North Carolina. A police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was charged with manslaughter over the death of an African American man.

These killings of unarmed African Americans resulted in Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S.

In the days after these incidents, mass shootings of police officers occurred in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Arrest-related deaths undermine our confidence in law enforcement. At Peek & Toland , we help people who have been improperly arrested or charged with a crime on the flimsiest of evidence. Call us today for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

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