57 B.C. L. Rev. 117 (2016)
Using Data to Reduce Police Violence

handle is hein.journals/bclr57 and id is 117 raw text is: 





         USING DATA TO REDUCE POLICE
                              VIOLENCE


                              STEPHEN   RUSHINt

Abstract:  Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act in 2014, which
created a national database on civilian deaths causedby law enforcement. The Fed-
eral Bureau of Investigations and the Bureau of Justice Statistics have subsequently
also announced new  efforts to collect data on the frequency of deadly encounters
between law enforcement  and civilians. This Article explores howthe federal gov-
ernment could use these newly amassed datasets to reduce police violence. This
Article makes two contributions. The first Part of the Article argues that data alone
will be insufficient to bring about widespread reform in local police departments.
By making  these datasets publicly available, the federal government couldincentiv-
ize some police departments to prioritize reductions in police violence. But even
when  faced with troubling statistical trends, there is no guarantee that some of the
nation's most problematic law enforcement agencies will voluntarily make expen-
sive policy and procedural reforms. Thus, the second Part of the Article considers
some  ways that the U.S. AttorneyGeneral couldharness these new datasets to im-
prove the use of federal civil rights litigation against local police departments. Un-
der 42 U.S.C.  14141, the Attorney General has the power to seekequitable relief
against police departments engaged in a patternor practice of unconstitutional mis-
conduct, including excessive uses of force. Byusing this data, the Attorney General
can incrementally improve  the enforcement of  14141 in a way that incentives
local police departments to implement reforms aimed at reducing officer violence.

                                INTRODUCTION

     Several  recent, high profile police killings of civilians have ignited a na-
tional debate about the regulation of law enforcement.1  Many   advocates have


    0 2016, Stephen Rushin. All rights reserved.
    * Assistant Professor, University of Alabama Schoolof Law. I received helpful comments from
Ronald Krotoszynski, Heather Elliott, Avlana Eisenberg, Sharon Rush, Erika Wilson, Jason Cade,
Debbie Dinner, Shawn Bayern, Wilson Parker, Rebecca Hollander-Blumoff, Jonathan Nash, Abigail
Perdue, Ann Lipton, Usha Rodrigues, Mark Weidemaier, Stephanie Bornstein, Shu-Yi Oei, and An-
drew Tuch.
     Most notably, the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner of New York,
New York, and Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Ohio have sparked national outrage. See, e.g., Julie Bosman
& Emma  G. Fitzsimmons, Grief and Protests Follow Shooting of a Teenager, N.Y. TIMES (Aug. 10,
2014), http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/1 1/us/police-say-mike-brown-was-killed-after-struggle-for-
gun.html?_r=0 [httpi/perma.cc/7UUN-GSL8] (providing an early account of Michael Brown's death
at the hands of the Ferguson Police Department); J. David Goodman & Al Baker, Wave of Protests
After Grand Jury Doesn't Indict Officerin Eric Gamer Chokehold Case, N.Y. TIMES (Dec. 3, 2014),
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/nyregion/grand-jury-said-to-bring-no-charges-in-staten-island-
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