Sixty percent of all reported arrest-related deaths from 2003 to 2009 were found to be homicides committed by law enforcement personnel, according to a recent federal analysis.
The U.S. Department of Justice report confirms that from 2003 through 2009 law enforcement agents killed 2,931 arrestees – deaths that have been classified “criminal.”
In the same period, there were 1,882 other arrest-related deaths that were determined not of criminal nature. These deaths include suicides (11 percent), intoxication (11 percent), accidental injury (6 percent) and natural causes (5 percent), the report says.
“In three-quarters (75 percent) of homicides by law enforcement personnel, the underlying offense of arrest was a violent offense. No criminal charges were intended in less than 2 percent of these incidents,” the report notes.
Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA) in 2000. The law requires that any death that occurs within the process of arrest by a state, county or local law enforcement agency throughout the nation be documented.
|“From 2003 through 2009
law enforcement agents killed 2,931 arrestees
– deaths that have been classified ‘criminal’ ”|
Through its Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program, the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics has sought to determine the number of these deaths that actually get reported.
Using the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), two categories of deaths were considered: justifiable and unjustifiable, the report explains.
More than a quarter (28 percent) of law enforcement homicides in the United States – both justified and unjustified – were not captured by either system (ARD nor SHR), according to the information collected.
“In total, the BJS ARD program data and the SHR data each identified about half of the expected number of homicides by law enforcement officers during the period from 2003 through 2009 and 2011,” say the report’s authors.
This led the research team to questions about “voluntary” reporting from state and local agencies. Their response was to implement the use of “open sources” (web searches and Google alerts) to identify deaths that may have gone unreported.