FBI Chief: News Media Has Better Data on Police Shootings Than Government

FBI Director James Comey testifies before Congress on October 8. Comey has lamented his organization's lack of reliable data on police shootings. Jim Bourg/REUTERS

At a violent crime summit organized by the U.S. Justice Department, FBI director James Comey said that The Washington Post has better data on police violence in America than the U.S. government's top law enforcement agencies.

"It's ridiculous—embarrassing and ridiculous," said Comey, according to The Guardian. Comey also cited the U.K.-based newspaper's U.S. bureau as a news outlet that has done a better job of counting the number of uses of deadly force by police.

"It is unacceptable that The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper...are becoming the lead source of information about violent encounters between [US] police and civilians. That is not good for anybody," he said, according to the same story.

The apparent lack of attention has become the priority of Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney General, who on Monday announced the first national open-source program to record police killings. Currently the federal government keeps track of deadly force incidents through self-reporting from local law enforcement groups. Under the new program other forms of reporting, like video recordings, will be taken into account.

Lynch's initiative might look like it undermines law enforcement on the surface, but according to the officials present at the summit, better official data will help organizations back up officers, instead of leaving them to be prosecuted in the court of public opinion and the media.