On this episode, Brian Burghart and I discuss his work to document every police related deaths in the U.S. since the year 2000. We talk about the lack of a comprehensive government run national database, why he came to create Fatal Encounters, what was required to create it, how it’s managed, and the future of the database.
Hi, my name is D. Brian Burghart. I’m a lifelong, award-winning journalist. I’ve got two master’s degrees–one in English writing and one in journalism. I’m the former editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review and a former journalism instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno. These days, I’m founder and executive director of Fatal Encounters Dot Org and a part-time researcher for the University of Southern California.
I’m based in Reno, Nevada, but I’m currently traveling and seeing how far I can push Verizon’s Unlimited limits. I’ve created this page because I believe in a democracy, citizens should be able to figure out how many people are killed during interactions with law enforcement, why they were killed, and whether training and policies can be modified to decrease the number of officer-involved deaths.
Fatal Encounters intends to help create a database of all deaths through police interaction in the United States since Jan. 1, 2000. We are not a finished product. We’re just the first step toward creating an impartial, comprehensive and searchable national database of people killed during interactions with police. We expect other media organizations, law enforcement, universities, artists and activist groups will advance our work, and that’s why we let anyone use the data for any reason for free.
This site will remain as impartial and data-driven as possible, directed by the theory that Americans should be able to answer some simple questions about the use of deadly force by police: How many people are killed in interactions with law enforcement in the United States of America? Are they increasing? What do those people look like? Can policies and training be modified to have fewer officer-involved shootings and improve outcomes and safety for both officers and citizens?
Tom Baker has been a PhD student in UMSL’s Criminology and Criminal Justice program since 2017. Tom received his BA in Political Science from Arizona State University and worked as a police officer for approximately nine years. His research interests include police culture, use of force, and qualitative research methods.
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