In the first five months of 2015, US police forces fatally shot at least 385 people, The Washington Post reports. That's more than two people per day, and more than double the amount of police killings on record for the last decade. But this doesn't necessarily mean police are killing more people than they ever have, rather it's indicative of the FBI's known failure to keep a reliable, comprehensive database of police killings nationwide.
Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Police Foundation told the Post that police killings in the US are "grossly underreported." "We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information," he said.
Police killings are "grossly underreported."
A 2014 report by The Wall Street Journal revealed huge gaps in the FBI's records of fatal shootings involving police. The Journal found that hundreds of homicides at the hands of police recorded by local departments around the country were never included in the FBI's records. The FBI, along with the Centers for Disease Control and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, is one of the main sources for information about deaths caused by police, and the data from each organization differs widely, the Journal reports. That report also found that Washington, DC police didn’t report details to the FBI about any homicides by police for an entire decade, from 1998 to 2009.
The Washington Post's recent statistics, which only account for shootings by police, come from data collection and analysis from reporters at the paper using "interviews, police reports, local news accounts, and other sources."
The Post also reported back in April than among thousands of fatal shootings by police since 2005, only 54 officers were ever charged.