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Demonstrations followed the shooting of Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies in 2020. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A new government accountability report says the Department of Justice failed to consistently publish an annual summary of police excessive force data from 2016 to 2020, as required by federal law.

Why it matters: The data is crucial for the DOJ to monitor excessive force cases, and used to investigate law enforcement agencies with patterns of abuse. The DOJ can pivot off it to pursue court action to force reforms.

Driving the news: The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Tuesday released a report examining the DOJ's efforts to collect relevant data and investigate allegations of excessive force.

  • The report found that from 2016 to 2020, the department didn't publish an annual summary of data about excessive force for any of those fiscal years because officials didn't assign roles and responsibilities for doing so.
  • The FBI initiated a new data collection effort in 2016 but the agency since has seen insufficient participation by the estimated 18,000 state and municipal law enforcement agencies around the country.
  • The report said the FBI did little to address it.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment after Axios supplied a copy of the report.

The intrigue: The report comes after the Biden administration announced in April it would reverse a Trump-era policy limiting the use of consent decrees to force changes at police departments and government agencies accused of misconduct.

  • In one of his final moves as attorney general in 2018, Jeff Sessions issued a memo restricting the ability of local U.S. attorneys to enter into consent-decree settlements.
  • That prevented the DOJ's civil rights division from launching probes into police departments following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and as demonstrators took to the streets in the summer of 2020.

What's next: The GAO made 11 recommendations to the Justice Department to improve its data collection on excessive force cases.

  • The report recommended the FBI director look into potential alternative data collection strategies for the National Use of Force Data Collection.
  • The report also recommended the attorney general assign responsibility for collecting and annually publishing data on the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2022 - Health

Preliminary data shows COVID was leading cause of death for cops in 2021

Honor Guard teams from around the Mid-Atlantic region head to the gravesite during a funeral service on Jan. 11, 2022 in Baltimore. Photo: Scott Serio/AFP via Getty Images

COVID was the highest cause of law enforcement deaths in 2021, according to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

Driving the news: COVID-related deaths increased 65% last year. Of the 458 confirmed law enforcement line-of-duty deaths from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 301 were caused by COVID.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage during Shabbat services for around 11 hours in Colleyville, Texas.

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