Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one The Memo: Democrats may rue pursuit of Bannon Ben Affleck, Tracee Ellis Ross join anti-gerrymandering fundraiser with Clinton, Holder MORE is calling for more data to be collected on how police officers use force, and how it is used against them.
Advocates have been pushing for law enforcement agencies to better record data on incidents where police use force against civilians, arguing the step is needed after police killing multiple unarmed black men last year.
Law enforcement groups, meanwhile, say the federal government should do more to prevent the killing of police officers.
Holder on Thursday sought a middle ground, arguing that both requests have merit.
“The first step to achieving this is to obtain better, more accurate data on the scope of the challenges we face. For instance, I’ve heard from a number of people who have called on policymakers to ensure better record-keeping on injuries and deaths that occur at the hands of police,” Holder said, speaking at an event to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I’ve also spoken with law enforcement leaders — including the leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police — who have urged elected officials to consider strategies for collecting better data on officer fatalities. Today, my response to these legitimate concerns is simple: we need to do both.”
Holder’s comments seemed to be directed at the growing debate over how to oversee police conduct, which has been raging since the police killing last summer of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
“The troubling reality is that we lack the ability right now to comprehensively track the number of incidents of either uses of force directed at police officers or uses of force by police,” he said. “This strikes many — including me — as unacceptable. Fixing this is an idea that we should all be able to unite behind.”
Lawmakers and civil rights advocates have increasingly called for better oversight of police since the deaths of several unarmed men at the hands of officers last year. In December, President Obama signed into law the reauthorization of a law that requires states to report incidents where suspects die during an arrest or in police custody.
The administration has also been under pressure to more directly address questions about police conduct. The White House has called for funding that would allow more officers to wear body cameras and launched a task force on police.
Law enforcement groups have responded by asking for measures that they say would protect police from being targeted. The Fraternal Order of Police, an officer’s union, has been lobbying lawmakers to amend the nation’s hate crimes law to include police officers.
In December, two New York police officers were killed by a man who had said on social media that he was planning to target police.
Holder praised law enforcement in his speech Thursday, noting that his brother is a retired police officer.
“In short, they are true American heroes — whose patriotism, integrity, and commitment to the highest standards of excellence are simply beyond question. I know this,” he said “And I have been troubled and deeply disturbed by recent mischaracterizations of this administration’s regard for those who wear the badge.”