28% of deaths that occurred in the process of arrest not documented

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After the passage of the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA) of 2000, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) began collecting data on deaths that occurred in the process of arrest.

Provisions in the 2000 DICRA called for collecting all deaths occurring within the process of arrest in any state, county, or local law enforcement agency nationwide. From 2003 through 2009, BJS obtained reports on 4,813 such deaths through its Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program.

About 3 in 5 of these deaths (2,931) were classified as homicides by law enforcement personnel. The remaining 2 in 5 deaths were attributed to other manners, including suicide (11%), intoxication deaths (11%), accidental injury (6%), and natural causes (5%).1

In three-quarters (75%) of homicides by law enforcement personnel, the underlying offense of arrest was a violent offense.

No criminal charges were intended in less than 2% of these incidents.

To assess the completeness of the ARD data that BJS received, in 2013 BJS undertook a technical review of the ARD program’s methodology and an assessment of the program’s coverage of all arrest-related deaths in the United States. The methodology review examined the variation in states’ approaches to identifying and confirming arrest related deaths. The assessment of coverage focused on determining whether BJS received all arrest-related deaths that occurred or only a portion of them.

The primary focus of the assessment of coverage was on homicides by law enforcement officers. The analysis showed that the ARD program obtained fewer law enforcement homicide deaths than expected.

In total, the BJS ARD program data and the SHR data each identified about half of the expected number of homicides by law enforcement officers during the period from 2003 through 2009 and 2011. The ARD program captured approximately 49% of these homicides, while the SHR captured 46%.

More than a quarter (28%) of law enforcement homicides in the United States were not captured by either system.

Source: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/acardp.pdf

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