Many Blacks in America were happy when Loretta Lynch was named as the first Black woman to be appointed as US Attorney General. Lynch was named to replace outgoing Eric Holder as the first Black person to hold the post. Now Lynch is back in the news over her controversial stand on police shootings and reporting of these incidents.
During an interview with NBC journalist Chuck Todd, Lynch felt that the federal government should not require police to report fatal shootings of civilians. This shocking statement differs significantly from her predecessor Eric Holder. Lynch stated, “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.”
When Todd pressed Lynch on the fact that news organizations such as The Guardian have compiled records and hard facts on the disproportionate numbers of police killing civilians, especially Black civilians, she responded, “I’m not going to comment on news organizations keeping numbers…”I think they do a pretty good job sometimes.”
Her statement wildly differs from Eric Holder who stated, “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.”
The day after the interview, it seemed Lynch tried to clarify her stance using Justice Department spokesperson Melanie Newman. Newman stated in defense of her boss, “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.”
Lynch’s statements are troubling considering there are no reliable government records on the number of police killings of Blacks in America. Police departments are not required by law to report these killings to the federal government. Reporting of this data is done on a voluntary basis by police departments throughout the country. In 2015, it has been estimated by The Guardian that there have been 878 people killed by police.