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Validating the National Violent Death Reporting System as a Source of Data on Fatal Shootings of Civilians by Law Enforcement Officers

NCJ Number
American Journal of Public Health Volume: 109 Issue: 4 Dated: 2019 Pages: 578-584
Date Published
7 pages
This study evaluated the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) for use as a surveillance system for fatal shootings of civilians by law enforcement officers in the United States.

This evaluation of the NVDRS cross-linked individual-level mortality data from the 2015 NVDRS and five open-source data sets (FatalEncounters.org, Mapping Police Violence, the Guardian's "The Counted," Gun Violence Archive, and The Washington Post's "Fatal Force Database"). Using the comprehensive cross-linked data set, the evaluation assessed the proportion of its identified fatal police shootings that were captured by NVDRS, overall and by state, and by each open-source data set. The evaluation identified 404 unique fatal shootings by law enforcement officers in the 27 states for which data were available from NVDRS, 393 (97 percent) of which were captured in NVDRS. The proportion of shootings captured by NVDRS varied only slightly by state. The NVDRS provides a comprehensive count of fatal police shootings. The evaluation concludes that expanding NVDRS to all states would provide comprehensive counts of fatal police shootings and detailed circumstantial information about these deaths at the national level. Open-source data can continue to provide real-time data collection, as well as more complete information about non-firearm officer-involved deaths. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019