By ELEANOR HEDGES DUROY, age 12
This year, nearly 1,000 people have been killed by police officers in the United States, according to the Guardian’s new website, “The Counted.” The site, fully searchable by the public, is the largest database in the United States tracking deaths that occur during altercations with police, like those of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
“The Counted” provides demographic data and a case summary of each death, regardless of whether they are ruled justifiable or unjustifiable by U.S. courts. Currently, data from the project shows that twice as many unarmed African Americans have been killed by police than unarmed whites or Hispanics. This data indicates that while people of all races are involved in police altercations, African Americans are more likely to be killed.
“Giving this kind of data to the public is a big thing,” said Erica Garner, whose father’s death last year during an incident with the NYPD led to international protests. “With better records, we can look at what is happening and what might need to change.”
While “The Counted” receives news of police involved deaths from traditional sources like police reports and media outlets, the public also informs journalists about cases. Jamiles Lartey, a researcher and journalist for the project, said, “User tips are responsible for a really significant percentage of the reporting that we do, and for pushing us to look into certain cases.”
Lartey continued, “If people think law enforcement is overly criticized, they should welcome a project like ours that is keeping the raw data that can allow people on either side of the issue to speak accurately about what’s going on.”