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FBI director: Stats don’t back up claims about police shootings epidemic

SAN DIEGO — FBI Director James Comey told a gathering of police chiefs that people who think there’s an epidemic of police shootings of black people aren’t well-informed.

He touched on a theme he has pursued for more than a year: trying to get police to embrace the need to report statistics on officer-involved shootings. Better numbers, Comey argues, would help the nation understand whether there is a real epidemic of police killings of black men or if the advent of viral videos shared in social media are giving the impression that there are more lethal confrontations between police and minorities.

“A small group of videos serve as an epidemic” Comey argued Sunday.

People who think there is an epidemic of police shootings don’t know if there is, and police don’t know whether there is, because there is no national collection of police shooting reports. Some police departments report such numbers while many don’t.

The FBI is trying to change that, recently announcing a pilot program to collect numbers from police departments in 2017.

Comey also spoke about the need of police to improve trust with the communities they serve.