National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

How Many Police Killings Are There Annually?

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a front page story titled, “Hundreds of Police Killings Uncounted in Federal Statistics.”

Here is an excerpt (sorry for no link; there is a paywall):

A Wall Street Journal analysis of the latest data from 105 of the country’s largest police agencies found more than 550 police killings during those years [2007 – 2012] were missing from the national tally or, in a few dozen cases, not attributed to the agency involved. The result: It is nearly impossible to determine how many people are killed by the police each year.

Public demands for transparency on such killings have increased since the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo. The Ferguson Police Department has reported to the FBI one justifiable homicide by police between 1976 and 2012.

Law-enforcement experts long have lamented the lack of information about killings by police. “When cops are killed, there is a very careful account and there’s a national database,” said Jeffrey Fagan, a law professor at Columbia University. “Why not the other side of the ledger?”

Good question.

However, there is an unstated bias at work here.  It is in the unfortunate title of the Journal article quoted above.  “Uncounted in Federal Statistics.”   But the Journal is hardly alone.  The bias/assumption is that the FBI “oversees” police departments across America.  Thus, it follows that those departments ought to be reporting data to the FBI.   This is incorrect.   Local police do not report to the FBI.   Often departments cooperate with one another.  Cooperation should not be confused with a legal obligation.

To clarify, we should know how many police killings there are.  We should even know more than that.  [If a guy is shot 5 times by an officer and is hospitalized for 8 months and manages to live, but is paralyzed, why should that incident not also be counted? ]    Governors should be responsible for this data-gathering task, not the federal government.   Btw, the article says, “Also missing from the FBI data are killings involving federal officers.”   Good grief.   Let the feds start there.  FBI, DEA, IRS, etc

Kudos to the Wall Street Journal for pressing police agencies around the country for this information.  Good reporting.

Related articles here and here.

NewsFeed Hold

Please know that our NewsFeed will be on hold for a few days.

We expect to resume reporting on Monday, December 15.

As usual, we appreciate it when readers use our submissions page to send us stories they find from around the country.

Is There a Connection Between Police Unions and Abusive Cops?

Conor Friedersdorf:

There are, of course, police officers who are fired for egregious misbehavior by commanding officers who decide that a given abuse makes them unfit for a badge and gun. Yet all over the U.S., police unions help many of those cops to get their jobs back, often via secretive appeals geared to protect labor rights rather than public safety. Cops deemed unqualified by their own bosses are put back on the streets. Their colleagues get the message that police all but impervious to termination.

That isn’t to say that every officer who is fired deserves it, or that every reinstated cop represents a miscarriage of justice. In theory, due process before a neutral arbiter could even protect blue whistleblowers from wrongful termination. But in practice, too many cops who needlessly kill people, use excessive force, or otherwise abuse their authority are getting reprieves from termination….

Society entrusts police officers with awesome power. The stakes could not be higher when they abuse it: Innocents are killed, wrongly imprisoned, beaten, harassed—and as knowledge of such abuses spreads, respect for the rule of law wanes. If police officers were at-will employees (as I’ve been at every job I’ve ever held), none of the cops mentioned above would now be walking the streets with badges and loaded guns. Perhaps one or two of them deserved to be exonerated, despite how bad their cases look. Does the benefit of being scrupulously fair to those individuals justify the cost of having more abusive cops on the street?

Read the whole thing.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-27-14 to 12-01-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, November 27 to Monday, December 1, 2014:

  • Update: Houston, Texas (First reported 08-22-14): A police officer charged with carrying a kilogram of cocaine in was indicted on first-degree felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. ly/Fbhpd
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: A police officer has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident. ly/Fb8oK
  • Imperial County, California: A police officer was arrested while in full uniform following an FBI-led investigation of bribery allegations. ly/FaO8p
  • Palo Alto, California: A detective has been disciplined for forwarding an explicit photo of a suspect from a cellphone while the woman was under arrest, according to an audit report. ly/FaKYV
  • Gainesville, Florida: A police officer has been fired after an internal affairs investigation found he had sex with a 19-year-old woman he arrested for shoplifting. ly/FaEx9
  • Maricopa County, Arizona: Some deputies have been accused of falsifying search warrant requests. A judge said there were “seemingly pervasive misstatements of basic facts” made by investigators when they obtained search warrants. ly/FauYG
  • Paris, Maine: The police chief faces a charge of drunk driving after getting pulled over. ly/Fa6mb
  • Fruitport Township, Michigan: An officer is being charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence and having a minor in the car at the time. ly/Fa5lO
  • Des Moines, Iowa: A police officer has been charged with driving while intoxicated. He was off duty when he was pulled over for speeding. ly/F9XUV
  • Dallas, Texas: A police officer has been placed on administrative leave after being arrested. He is facing charges of driving while intoxicated and evading on foot. ly/F9y28

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-26-14

Here are the 15 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, November 26, 2014:

  • Update: Salisbury, Maryland (First reported 09-12-14): A judge found a police officer made an unlawful arrest of a teen. The boy was acquitted on all charges as a result. http://ow.ly/EVDXi
  • Cuyahoga County, Ohio: A prosecutor said three law enforcement officials face felony charges for misusing their access to confidential criminal records. http://ow.ly/EVLoH
  • Douglas County, Colorado: Sheriff’s deputies arrested a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent on charges of domestic violence and criminal mischief. http://ow.ly/EVRpY
  • Denver, Colorado: Video shows an officer punching an unarmed suspect in the face six times then tripping the man’s seven-and-a-half-months pregnant girlfriend. http://ow.ly/EVOJq
  • Update: Troy, New York (First reported 07-30-14): A city police officer who worked with a state police drug task force was indicted on charges of tampering with evidence after allegedly warning a friend about a drug raid. http://ow.ly/EVUOr
  • Dallas, Texas: An officer was arrested after police were called to meet with an injured woman. Detectives say a fight between escalated into violence that left the woman hospitalized with serious injuries. http://ow.ly/EVWmf
  • Fort Hood, Texas: A woman who was raped by a military police officer is suing the U.S. government. http://ow.ly/EVWLc
  • Update: Polk County, Florida (First reported 01-23-14): A now-former sheriff’s deputy pled guilty to two counts of official misconduct, which stems from arresting women and offering them deals if they exposed themselves. http://ow.ly/EW42e
  • Grapevine, Texas: A police officer was placed on administrative leave after admitting to taking and ingesting K-9 training narcotics. http://ow.ly/EW4Zl
  • Update: Hillsdale, Missouri (First reported 08-14-14): A now-former lieutenant will spend the next 46 months in jail followed by three years of probation. He pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and attempt to distribute heroin. http://ow.ly/EW5M3
  • Update: Maywood, Illinois (First reported 12-18-12): A now-former police officer was found guilty of misconduct but acquitted on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman he picked up in his squad car while on duty. http://ow.ly/EWaYL
  • Isabella County, Michigan: A deputy quit before facing firing for repeatedly questioning a 24-year-old woman about her sexual experiences and sending her graphically sexual text messages, according to departmental investigative reports. http://ow.ly/EW80n
  • Plaistow, New Hampshire: A now-former police detective has been sentenced to spend nine days behind bars. He pled guilty to criminal threatening and admitted he held a knife to a man’s throat, saying “shut up or I will slice you.” ly/EVDet
  • Update: Atlanta, Georgia (First reported 09-02-14): The shooting death of a woman whose body, found burning, has resulted in an indictment of a now-former police officer. ly/ESOot
  • Washoe County, Nevada: A sheriff’s deputy has been arrested after police say he was firing a gun while drunk and threatened to shoot at a sheriff’s helicopter. ly/ESOdi

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-25-14

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, November 25, 2014:

  • Dallas, Texas: A police officer has been fired for using excessive force in a videotaped incident in which a suspected panhandler was pinned to the ground. http://ow.ly/ESsCi
  • Update: Jarrel, Texas (First reported 02-07-14): A police chief will spend four and a half years in federal prison for using the witness protection program to collect bribes from illegal aliens wanting to avoid deportation. ly/ESjEz
  • Knox County, Tennessee: Two former law enforcement officers have pled guilty to attempting to commit extortion after being indicted by a federal grand jury. ly/ESqZz
  • Update: Superior, Wisconsin (Previously reported 10-21-14): An officer was given a 10-hour unpaid suspension for his actions during the arrest of a woman. Video shot by a dashboard camera in the squad car shows him shoving her onto the hood of the vehicle and striking her in the face with a closed fist as she reached toward his face and tried to pull away. The suspension was given because the officer used vulgarities when dealing with the woman, and his manner didn’t defuse the situation, according to the police department. ly/ERZBT
  • Update: Savannah-Chatham, Georgia (Previously reported 08-12-14): The now-former police chief was found guilty on one count of commercial gambling, one count of conspiracy, two counts making false statements, and two counts of extortion. He was found not guilty of three additional extortion charges. ly/ERKNQ
  • Eddy County, New Mexico: A sheriff’s deputy has resigned after being placed on administrative leave over alleged off-duty conduct. He submitted his resignation after he was arrested and accused of allegedly driving drunk. ly/ERGLG
  • San Marcos, Texas: A woman who says she suffered broken teeth and a concussion at the hands of a police officer who arrested her has sued him, the city’s police department and its former chief. ly/ERGbN
  • Nodaway, Missouri: A couple has filed a civil lawsuit in federal District Court claiming that the county sheriff and a deputy improperly entered their home while investigating allegations of child endangerment. ly/ERDZd
  • Update: Baltimore, Maryland (Previously reported 01-24-14): A now-former police officer was sentenced in federal court to 21 months in prison for his role in operating a prostitution business. He was also sentenced to two years of supervised release for his crime. According to the indictment he had more than 300 customers as part of his business. http://ow.ly/ES1Dv

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-22-14 to 11-24-14

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, November 22 to Monday, November 24, 2014:

  • Fremont, Ohio: A now-former state trooper pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile. He showed a pornographic video to a 12-year-old boy. ow.ly/EP5qy
  • Kootenai County, Idaho: A now-former state trooper from pled guilty to charges including petty theft and malicious injury to property in exchange for other criminal charges against him being dropped. He could receive up to five years in prison when sentenced. ow.ly/EP345
  • Newport, Rhode Island: A police officer has been arrested and accused of making a fake 911 call. ly/EOKSW
  • Cleveland, Ohio: A 12-year-old boy shot by police after grabbing what turned out to be a replica gun died from his wounds a day after officers responded to a 911 call about someone waving a “probably fake” gun at a playground. ly/ENhGO
  • Kingsville, Texas: A police officer is behind bars after an investigation into claims of domestic violence. He was arrested and charged with obstruction or retaliation, assault bodily injury of a family or household member and tampering with a witness. http://ow.ly/ETg1u
  • Update: Sturgis, Michigan (First reported 10-31-14): A sheriff’s deputy told an officer that he had been out celebrating his birthday and admitted to drinking and driving before crashing his pickup truck. “He stated he had no memory of where he had been drinking, what he had been drinking or how much he had been drinking,” said the officer. ly/EOJsr
  • New York, New York: Footage shows a violent encounter between a police officer and an alleged fare beater at subway station. It shows an officer hitting a man in the head with a nightstick; that move is against department policy. An internal investigation is underway. ly/EOvw3
  • Campbell County, Wyoming: The sheriff is resigning in the midst of a state investigation into an allegation that he tried to suppress his son’s arrest on a drunken driving charge. ly/EOdzn
  • Update: Millvale, Pennsylvania (Previously reported 06-24-14): A federal court jury convicted a police officer of violating a man’s civil rights by using a stun gun on him three times while he was handcuffed. ly/EO32I
  • Update: San Diego, California (First reported 06-06-14): A married couple who both served in the police department for years pled guilty to committing burglaries while on duty in order to steal prescription medications and sell them. ly/ENHzz
  • Savannah-Chatham, Georgia: A jury found a now-former police detective guilty of seven counts of making false statements. ly/ENCoX

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-21-14

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, November 21, 2014:

  • Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina: The attorney general’s office said a now-former police officer has been indicted on charges of embezzlement by a grand jury. ly/EH2dS
  • Dupont, Pennsylvania: A police officer is under investigation by the county District Attorney’s office for a “systemic abuse of authority.” A range of examples was cited; the DA believes the officer did not act properly, from issuing unlawful traffic citations to failing to investigate a stabbing, a DUI and other cases. ly/EGQ0P
  • Oakwood, Ohio: A now-former police officer accused of stealing nearly $100,000 from the police lodge where he was treasurer has been charged with grand theft. ly/EGD4Z
  • Buffalo, New York: A police officer has been charged with taking $130 from a woman’s pocketbook while on duty. ly/EGhDL
  • New York, New York: Two police officers were entering pitch-black stairwell of a building one of them with his sidearm drawn. The investigation’s leading theory described an instance of clumsiness on the part of the officer; officials say he accidentally shot his gun, killing an unarmed man in the stairwell. The officer was relieved of his gun and his badge. ly/EGdIb
  • Garden City, Idaho: A Garden City police officer has resigned from his department after a second DUI arrest. ly/EG3cW
  • Oconee County, South Carolina: A deputy was fired after he was charged with the assault and battery of a young child. “No one is above the law,” said the sheriff in a written statement. “Officers will not be treated any differently than any other resident of Oconee County and if allegations surface and are proven to be true, appropriate action will be taken.” ly/EFEPJ
  • Memphis, Tennessee: A Memphis police officer charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting her wife has pled not guilty. She was also charged with attempted murder because she tried to shoot the woman’s 12-year-old son. ly/EFuJE

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-20-14

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, November 20, 2014:

  • Lake County, Indiana: A woman alleges in a federal lawsuit filed that a sheriff’s officer sexually assaulted her while he was on duty. ly/ECAci
  • Lake County, Illinois: A county sheriff’s officer is being investigated for allegedly pulling over a school bus to deliver lunch to his son onboard. The report indicates that the bus was en route to a school and the bus would have been outside of his jurisdiction at the time of the stop. ly/ECxqQ
  • Colville, Washington: The State Attorney General filed a criminal case a police officer. The charges are the result of a sexual misconduct investigation. They include burglary with sexual motivation, unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, custodial misconduct, false/misleading statement to a public servant, and official misconduct. ly/ECwkt
  • Murray County, Georgia: During a campaign to “End Domestic Violence,” the sheriff’s office arrested one of their own for allegedly assaulting his wife. ly/ECu5p
  • Update: Middlefield, Ohio (First reported 08-04-14): A man who says he was set up by police has sued the village’s police chief, its former police chief and mayor, among others. He is accusing the officials of planting evidence, making false reports, using an unreliable and dishonest informant and hiding information. ly/ECrKx
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: A federal court jury convicted a police officer of violating a man’s civil rights by using a stun gun on him three times while he was handcuffed. ly/ECohs
  • Update: Las Cruces, New Mexico (First reported 04-22-13): A now-former detective was sentenced for violating the civil rights of a student intern. He was sentenced to nine years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. The officer also was ordered to forfeit his law enforcement certification and comply with federal and state sex offender registration requirements. ly/EBxGg
  • Update: Cleveland, Ohio (Previously reported 07-23-14: A now-former police officer was sentenced to nineteen and a half years in prison for videotaping himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl he met at a recreation center. ly/EBulT
  • Asheville, North Carolina: A police officer is behind bars on a charge of assaulting a female. He is accused of “holding female down and covering her mouth while telling her to shut up. And pushing female up against a wall by her neck using his hands,” according to the warrant. ly/EBtID
  • Update: San Jose, California (Previously reported 05-14-14): A woman who says a police officer raped her while on duty has filed a civil suit. http://ow.ly/Fbyif
  • Whitesburg, Kentucky: Cited for drunken driving over the weekend, the police chief said that he had learned from the experience. “It’s very unfortunate, but I’ve learned from it,” he said. “Just never do it again, pick up the pieces and move on.” http://ow.ly/EyHVb
  • Update: Columbia, South Carolina (First reported 09-22-14): A judge ruled the state had probable cause to arrest a now-former state trooper who shot a man during a traffic stop. http://ow.ly/EyHCN

 

 

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-19-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, November 19, 2014:

  • Chicago, Illinois: A police officer has been indicted on federal charges. He is accused of using excessive force when he allegedly punched a man during an arrest, and kicked him while he was handcuffed and lying on the floor face-down. ow.ly/EyGbl
  • Update: Clovis, New Mexico (Previously reported 10-28-14): Prosecutors have decided that a police officer won’t face state charges in connection with a traffic stop in which excessive force was alleged. ow.ly/EyDHO
  • Weld County, Colorado: A grand jury has indicted a now-former deputy on felony charges in the murder of his wife. ow.ly/EyzbH
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A police officer must face charges that he threatened a man with his city-issued handgun. He has been fired. ow.ly/EyywI
  • Horry County, South Carolina: A sheriff’s deputy was released from jail on $1,000 bail after he was charged with assault and trespassing related to an incident that occurred while he was on duty and driving a sheriff’s van. ow.ly/EykyD
  • Secaucus, New Jersey: A police officer has been charged with obtaining a steroid gel known as Androgel testosterone and then selling the medication online. ow.ly/Eycr0
  • Update: Santa Fe County, New Mexico (First reported 10-30-14): The now-former sheriff’s deputy accused of shooting and killing a fellow deputy has pled not guilty. ow.ly/ExEuw
  • Newton, New Jersey: A police officer was caught on videotape unzipping his pants and exposing himself to young men during at least five traffic stops, according to an arrest affidavit. http://ow.ly/FbvOm
  • Houston, Texas: A police officer has been charged after he allegedly sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl. ow.ly/EwUaU
  • Update: Goodyear, Arizona (First reported 11-06-14): A police officer pled not guilty after he was accused of recording 21 women as they undressed at a tanning salon. ow.ly/EuVZ0

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