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Assessment of Coverage in the Arrest-Related Deaths Program

NCJ Number
Duren Banks; Lance Couzens; Michael Planty .
Date Published
October 2015
5 pages
This is the executive summary of a report on an assessment conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2013 to determine whether the methodology and coverage of BJS's collection of data on arrest-related deaths (ARD) in the United States was accurate and complete.
The assessment found that for the study period from 2003 through 2009 and 2011, both the ARD program and the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) obtained data for only about half of the expected number of law enforcement homicides in the United States. An examination of data on deaths that were reported to either or both systems determined that the systems combined obtained reports on, at best, 72 percent of all law enforcement homicides in the United States across all years observed. Improvements in the most recent years studied (2009 and 2011) are attributed to the increased use of open-source data that identified potential cases of arrest-related deaths. The ARD program coverage can be improved by providing a more centralized method for identifying arrest-related deaths and providing incentives for law enforcement agencies to confirm or identify deaths that occur in the course of an arrest and provide information on the circumstances. BJS has begun to examine the use of open-source data to identify ARDs in conjunction with a direct survey of law enforcement agencies and other agencies responsible for investigating deaths that occur during an arrest. In conducting this assessment, both ARD data and a separate source of data on law enforcement homicide, i.e., the FBI's SHR, were examined. The assessment compared the number of law enforcement homicides reported by the ARD program from 2003 through 2009 and 2011 with the number of justifiable homicides reported by the SHR over the same period. 1 table and 3 figures