Justice department wants to track all 'arrest-related' deaths in - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Justice department wants to track all 'arrest-related' deaths in U.S.

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(NBC) -

After a spate of high-profile shootings by police in recent years, the Department of Justice has an initiative it wants to make permanent: collect data on all "arrest-related" deaths.

Under the program, which was proposed last week, some 19,450 state and local law enforcement agencies and about 685 medical examiners' offices would help catalog such incidents annually this year, and then quarterly starting next year.

Each report would provide names, locations, whether or not the arrested was allegedly committing a crime, their behavior during the incident, how law enforcement responded and the manner of death.

While the FBI keeps track of some deaths linked to law-enforcement-related shootings, police departments aren't obliged to report their numbers.

Police reform advocates have derided the lack of comprehensive data when it comes to arrest-related deaths and say transparency is needed to understand the scope of the issue.

Data collected by The Washington Post and The Guardian found roughly 1,000 people were killed last year by police in America, according to their separate methodologies. This year so far, over 580 people have been fatally shot by police, The Post found, while The Guardian pegged the overall number of police-involved deaths at over 650.

Homicides were the leading cause of arrest-related deaths from 2003-09, theJustice Department reported in 2011. Suicides and intoxication were second and third — but deaths like that of Sandra Bland, in the custody of Texas state police in 2015, have even raised questions about those incidents.

The majority of the 4,813 killed during those years were men, at 95 percent, while 42 percent of the total number were white and nearly 32 percent were black, the DOJ said.

Police-involved shootings have been under greater scrutiny since the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Public comments on the DOJ's initiative are being accepted until Oct. 3 through the Federal Register before the proposal would be formally adopted.

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