WASHINGTON, DC –Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with 50 members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting the Department of Justice (DOJ) collect and publicly release data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.

The letter was also signed by Reps. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Corrine Brown (D-FL), André Carson (D-IN), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), José Serrano (D-NY), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Maxine Waters D-CA), Dianna DeGette (D-CO), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), John Yarmuth (D-KY), James Clyburn (D-SC), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Mike Honda (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D- CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), Danny Davis (D-IL), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sam Farr (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL),  Janice Hahn (D-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA),  Cedric Richmond (D-LA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Alma Adams (D-NC), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

The text of the letter is below and a signed version can be found here.  

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We share a strong commitment to building a fairer, more equitable criminal justice system and write today to request the Department of Justice (DOJ) collect data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers in the United States and produce a publicly available annual summary of the data. [1] This reporting is currently required under [the] Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, however according to media reports the most recent report was issues in 2001. [2]

Recent events in Sanford, Ferguson, Staten Island, and Cleveland illustrate a significant need for criminal justice reform. Reliable information is necessary in order to implement meaningful change. Experience in our communities indicates that the use of excessive force disproportionally affects communities of color, but we lack the empirical data from the Department of Justice.

In order to ensure that [the] criminal justice system provides equal justice for all, the DOJ should establish a standardized procedure by which local law enforcement agencies collect and report relevant data. This procedure should leave it to local authorities to judge what is “excessive”, but rather should provide DOJ with sufficient information to allow DOJ to make that judgment.

We request that you respond to our request and report on the steps that the DOJ will take to ensure that instances of excessive force are tracked and reported. Recent events make it clear that this is an urgent matter.

[1] Section 210402(a) of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C 14142) requires the Attorney General to compile data on the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers. Subsection (c) requires the production of an annual summary of the data that is compiled.

[2] Ross, Keith, “How Many Police Shootings Have There Been? In The Aftermath of Michael Brown’s Death, The Absence of Police Shooting Statistics Leaves The Question Unanswered,” The International Business Times (Aug. 15, 2014).

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