…The U.S. government doesn’t track how many people are killed by the police. The FBI tracks “justifiable” police homicides, which it reports to be about 400 per year, but that tally is an undercount.
Given this vacuum, attention has recently turned to some excellent nongovernmental attempts to compile this data, including the Fatal Encounters database, the recently created Gun Violence Archive and a new database created by Deadspin.
But one recent effort stood out for its apparent comprehensiveness: The Killed By Police Facebook page, which aggregates links to news articles on police-related killings and keeps a running tally on the number of victims. The creator of the page does not seek to determine whether police killings are justifiable; each post “merely documents the occurrence of a death.” He told FiveThirtyEight that he was an instructor on nonviolent physical-intervention techniques and that he prefers to remain anonymous.
Killed by Police had listed more than 1,450 deaths caused by law-enforcement officers since its launch, on May 1, 2013, through Sunday. That works out to about three per day, or 1,100 a year.
The page doesn’t claim that this is a comprehensive count, but it could be useful — like the count from the FBI’s annual Supplementary Homicide Report is useful — for setting a baseline number of police killings, as long as important caveats are acknowledged. For one, any database drawn from news sites relies on the assumption that the reports are accurate…
RTFA for an interesting examination of how the folks at fivethirtyeight.com went about their statistical task. They’re one of the most reliable, self-checking survey sources in the nation along with the Pew Foundation.