IHR Clinic Students Submit Comments to DOJ on National Use of Force Database

In October of 2016, the FBI announced a 2017 pilot project for collecting use-of-force statistics nationwide, creating a national database on deadly and non-fatal interactions between law enforcement and the public. IHR Clinic students Shelbi Smith ('18) and Ryan Maher ('18), in conjunction with Amnesty International USA, submitted comments to the Department of Justice regarding the agency’s proposed pilot program for a National Use of Force Data Collection Program. Students laid out the international human rights standards related to use of force by law enforcement officers and made suggestions related to the three categories of data: the subject of the use of force, the officers who use force, and characteristics of the incident. The comments also highlighted the fact that, in order to be effective, data collection program must become a mandatory reporting tool for all law enforcement agencies across the country.

The submitted comments are part of a larger project in the IHR Clinic, the Human Rights and Police Use of Force in the United States project. This project that builds on work done by Amnesty International, USA in its groundbreaking 2014 report “On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson” and involves an analysis, based on international standards, of police department use of force policies and data on the number of shots fired and people killed by police in the 20 largest U.S. cities. Students are working with the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics to conduct quantitative analyses of the data, which will be published next year in a join report with Amnesty International, USA.

The comments submitted to the Department of Justice are available here