August 9 marks the two year anniversary of Mike Brown's death. Former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the 18-year-old while he walked down Canfield Drive with a friend. His bullet-riddled decaying body laid in the street for four hours — and sparked a revolution for justice.
Now, after countless police killings, marches, and pushes for legislative reform, the Department of Justice is finally taking a step to curb state-sanctioned violence. On August 4, the Justice Department announced a new program to keep track of "arrest-related deaths," which includes shootings, suicides, physical force, and tasers.
It is the first comprehensive federal database to tally the number of Americans who die in police custody.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the new database will increase transparency around police killings on the state and federal level.
"Accurate and comprehensive accounting of deaths that occur during the process of arrest is critical for law enforcement agencies to demonstrate responsiveness to the citizens and communities they serve," the DOJ wrote in a note for the Federal Register.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) will use an arrest-related deaths database to oversee the project. The new federal program will require all 19,450 law enforcement offices to report all deaths. For the first year, they will submit information once. Next year, the BJS will move to a quarterly system, which will force all American police departments to report deaths at the end of each quarter.
Medical examiners and coroners will also have to participate. They will receive federal forms to corroborate or refute the details submitted by police departments.