U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told NBC’s Chuck Todd during the Washington Ideas Forum, hosted by AtlanticLIVE and the Aspen Institute, that the federal government should not require police to report fatal shootings of civilians.
“One of the things we are focusing on at the Department of Justice is not trying to reach down from Washington and dictate to every local department how they should handle the minutia of record keeping, but we are stressing to them that these records must be kept.” – Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Instead, Lynch suggested that local law enforcement agencies maintain records on police shootings, urging them to focus on improving police/community relations.
Lynch’s remarks are in stark contrast to the views of the nation’s previous Attorney General, Eric Holder, who believed the collection of data is “the first step to improving race relations between police and communities.
Just last week, RT.com reported FBI Director James Comey as saying:
“As helpful as this information is, however, we need more law enforcement agencies to submit their justifiable homicide data so that we can better understand what is happening across the country. The data will still be collected voluntarily, though, meaning that the FBI will not create a mandatory reporting system for officer-involved shootings.”
On Monday, Roland Martin, Black Lives Matter Activist DeRay Mckesson, and the NewsOne Now panel discussed Lynch’s remarks and what her comments could possibly mean to efforts to acquire information from local police departments about police-involved shootings.
Mckesson told Martin, “I don’t think her statement was very clear and I don’t know if it was particularly helpful, but I didn’t think that she actually said ‘don’t collect data.’”
“I think they will likely release a statement that clarifies the vast confusion of the statement,” he continued.
NewsOne Now panelist Lauren Victoria Burke reminded viewers that “the Death in Custody Law passed in December 2014 … which mandates these departments that receive federal funds to report the age, the race, the what-happened at the incident to the DOJ.”
She continued that AG Lynch and FBI Director James Comey are “in charge of enforcing that law.”
“I’m not sure what the ambiguity, what the problem is, but obviously the DOJ is not very enthusiastic about enforcing this law,” said Burke.
Cleo Manago highlighted that Lynch did imply that connecting with the community is more important than collecting data, but still has some reservations about the Attorney General’s comments.
He continued, “This proposal would have made the policemen have a better chance of thinking about being accountable and consider what they do, because they might have to pay for it. If they don’t have to pay for it, then we’re at risk again and I’m confused by why she would step back with this.”
Julianne Malveaux said, “I do not understand what Loretta Lynch is doing except for it seems that she is backing away from the federalism” of enforcing the law and possibly looking for states to handle enforcement.
Watch Roland Martin, DeRay Mckesson, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss Loretta Lynch’s comments in the video clip above.
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