Thursday, December 20, 2018

Senator wants federal government to collect data on officer involved fatal shootings

Local law enforcement agencies are not required to record and report to the federal government about cases where police officers fatally shoot civilians, reported McClatchy Papers.
Sen. Tim Scott wants to change that. But the South Carolina Republican has struggled to find momentum for legislation that would require such data collection, even after a string of high-profile police shootings over the past several years.
Scott first introduced the “Walter Scott Notification Act” in 2015, inspired by and named for the unarmed black man in North Charleston, South Carolina, who was shot and killed that year by a police officer who later pleaded guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Walter Scott was of no relation to the lawmaker, the only black Republican in the Senate.
The measure would require any state that receives federal law enforcement grants to submit annual reports to the attorney general about instances involving police shootings that resulted in death.
The reports would have to include a long set of data points: The ages and races of the individuals involved, a description of the event, an account of what disciplinary or legal actions followed and whether the victim was armed or had mental health issues. Failure to submit this information could result in a withholding of 10 percent of federal law enforcement grant funding.
Scott was lobbying Tuesday to get a vote on his bill by trying to attach it to a larger overhaul of the criminal justice system that passed that evening. He was ultimately unsuccessful, running up against resistance and limited time in which to change people’s minds.
James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police — the largest police union in the country — said his organization doesn’t support legislation that would, like Scott’s bill, threaten federal funding as an enforcement mechanism.
Pasco said Scott’s bill should also mandate reports of attacks on police officers by civilians alongside reports of attacks by police officers on civilians.
“We are not lobbying for mandatory reporting at this time,” Pasco added, “but if legislation is going to be enacted, we believe it should be mandatory and it should be incumbent upon the cities to report not only allegations of attacks by police officers on citizens, but attacks by citizens on police officers.”
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