Loretta Lynch Didn't Say the DOJ Shouldn't Require Reports of People Killed by Police

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch believes the federal government should not require local police departments to report on civilians killed by police, The Guardian reports. Lynch shared this stance, which differs from former Attorney General Eric Holder’s stance on police killings, during a conversation with NBC journalist Chuck Todd.

“One of the things we are focusing on at the Department of Justice is not trying to reach down from Washington and dictate to every local department how they should handle the minutia of record keeping, but we are stressing to them that these records must be kept,” she said.

Lynch said she believes improving police-community relations should be a priority. “The statistics are important, but the real issues are: ‘what steps are we all taking to connect communities … with police and back with government?’” she said.

Melanie Newman, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice told the Guardian that Lynch encourages police departments to maintain records regarding the interactions between police and civilians.

“Her broader point was that while maintaining data to record police interactions is important, we should be focused on preventing those interactions by improving relationships between local law enforcement and their communities,” Newman said.

Lynch's predecessor Eric Holder has called the lack of data on police killings "unacceptable." In January, Holder said, “I’ve heard from a number of people who have called on policymakers to ensure better record-keeping on injuries and deaths that occur at the hands of police. I’ve also spoken with law enforcement leaders – including the leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police – who have urged elected officials to consider strategies for collecting better data on officer fatalities. Today, my response to these legitimate concerns is simple: We need to do both.”

Photograph: Michael Dwyer/AP