Publication Date



According to the Washington Post, 991 people were shot to
death by police officers in the United States during calendar year
2015, and 957 people were fatally shot in 2016. A
disproportionate percentage of the citizens killed in these police-
civilian encounters were black. Events in Ferguson, Missouri;
Chicago, Illinois; Charlotte, North Carolina; Baton Rouge,
Louisiana; and Staten Island, New York-to name but a few
affected cities-have now exposed deep distrust between
communities of color and law enforcement. Greater transparency
is necessary to begin to heal this culture of distrust and to inform
the debate going forward about police practices in America.
The recent spate of deadly police-civilian encounters has
generated enormous media coverage, national discourse, and a
proliferation of recommended solutions. Perhaps the most notable
and comprehensive set of recommendations was issued by the
President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Created by
President Obama in December 2014, the task force consisted of
nine members drawn from police, academic and other law
enforcement-related professions. In its Final Report, issued in
May 2015, the committee proffered a number of recommendations
that stressed, among other things, the need for altering law
enforcement culture, improving training, and forging better police-
community partnerships. But the committee defined its principal
task in terms of needing to improve police-community trust. It
declared that trust "is essential in a democracy" and central to the
"stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice
system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services."