After experiencing some blowback from her comments that the federal government should not require police to report fatal shootings of civilians, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch backpedaled Monday, saying she was not being dismissive of the problem.
“Police shootings are not minutiae at all,” Lynch said in response to a question about her earlier comments. “Unfortunately, my comments gave the misperception that we were changing our view in some way about the importance of this data. Nothing could be further from the truth. This data is not only vital, we are working very closely with law enforcement to develop national consistent standards for collecting this kind of information. “…
Although Lynch’s appearance Monday was aimed at unveiling the Justice Department’s settlement with energy giant BP over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Justice Department was apparently eager to get out Lynch’s recalibrated message on the police statistics issue. Her answer to the off-topic question was quickly formed into a press release sent out by the law enforcement agency’s public affairs office.
Lynch told NBC’s Chuck Toddon Thursday during the Washington Ideas Forum, hosted by AtlanticLIVE and the Aspen Institute, that she wanted to avoid having “the Department of Justice dictate to every local department how they should handle the minutia of record keeping, but we are stressing to them that these records must be kept.”
The comments represented a dramatic departure from those of Lynch’s predecessor Eric Holder, who called for the data collection, noting that it was an important step in improving and repairing longstanding rifts between police and communities.
Just last week, NewsOne wrote that the FBI announced plans to track and publish the statistics. FBI Director James B. Comey described the information as vital in the ongoing debate over policing in the United States.