US police
File photo: US police officer iStock

The US Department of Justice has outlined its plan to collect data on the use of force by police officers, in an attempt to "build trust" between law enforcement and local communities.

The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing has asked police authorities to "collect, maintain and report data . . . on all officer involved shootings, whether fatal or nonfatal, as well as any in-custody death," although the collection of data related to non-fatal uses of force is currently not mandatory.

"Accurate and comprehensive data on the use of force by law enforcement is essential to an informed and productive discussion about community-police relations," US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, said in a statement.

"The initiatives we are announcing today are vital efforts toward increasing transparency and building trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve.

"In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue to work alongside our local, state, tribal and federal partners to ensure that we put in place a system to collect data that is comprehensive, useful and responsive to the needs of the communities we serve."

The move to collect data on the use of force by law enforcement comes amid increasing calls from groups such as Black Lives Matter for police officers to be investigated and held accountable in cases where civilians have been fatally injured by police.

Several high-profile police shootings of unarmed black men and women have led to violent protests in communities across the US – with many stating racial stereotyping had led to African Americans being at increased risk of a fatal interaction with the police.

FBI director James B. Comey, who dismissed the lack of national data on the use for force by police as "ridiculous", has been working to develop a National Use of Force Data Collection pilot programme that will begin in 2017, reported the Washington Post.