Anecdotes, rather than statistical analysis, fuel America’s debate around policing, FBI Director James Comey pointed out during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
Comey argued that the United States does not have enough information about police use of force against black people to have an intelligent discussion about it.
“All of those conversations are uninformed today. They are all driven by anecdotes because as a country, we simply don’t have the information to know: Do we have an epidemic of violence directed by law enforcement against black folks? Do we have an epidemic involving brown folks, white folks? We just don’t know. And in the absence of that data, we’re driven entirely by anecdotes. And that’s a very bad place to be,” Comey said to the committee.
Comey urged people to wait for the information before coming to a conclusion on whether there is an “epidemic of violence” in the country. Until the country has statistics, there is no way to tell if shootings against any group of people are up or down, he said.
“Nor can anybody else in this country. So to discuss the most important things that are going on in this country, we need information. And the government should collect it. I can’t think of something that’s more inherently governmental than the need to use deadly force in an encounter during law enforcement work,” Comey argued.
Comey told the committee that the FBI has plans to build and maintain a database on deadly police shootings. He said to expect the database within the next year or two.
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