Exclusive: GBI Director seeks agencies for use of force pilot study

Georgia's top law enforcement official wants more agencies to volunteer for a pilot use of force data collection study. 

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan sent a letter to police chiefs and sheriffs across the state July 18, asking them to take part in the FBI-lead pilot program.

"It's very important for the public to understand that the law enforcement profession across the nation has agreed that this is very much needed," Director Keenan explained.  "It's going to affect our policies.  It's going to affect our training and it's going to affect how we do day-to-day activities.  I'm convinced of that."

For the purposes of the pilot, "use of force" means any incident where someone is killed or seriously injured, or when an officer fires a weapon in the direction of a person.  Officer-involved shootings continue to make headlines, but there is no national collection of data available to show whether there are more than in years past. 

"There's not a database to compare year to year.  So, that's the--herein lies the problem," said Keenan.  "Is it worse than it's ever been?  [Are] officers using more force now than they ever have before or are they [using] less?" 

The DeKalb County Police Department was one of the first to sign on to the program. 

"Here in DeKalb we believe in intelligence-lead policing;  data-driven policing is very important," explained Chief James Conroy.  "Anytime there's a database or scientific evidence that can be used to better our field, we want to be a part of that." 

Any Georgia law enforcement agencies interested in participating in the pilot  should email the FBI at useofforce@ic.fbi.gov.