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The Big Problem With The FBI's Tracking Of Fatal Shootings By Police

A Washington Post senior editor says the agency did "a very poor job."

According to a comprehensive report from The Washington Post, nearly 1,000 Americans were shot and killed by police in 2015. That startling number aside, another surprising finding from the data is just how little the FBI truly understood the breadth of police shootings in previous years.

Washington Post senior editor Marc Fisher discussed the report with HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski on Monday, explaining that because most American law enforcement is decentralized and locally-powered, national numbers about killings at the hands of police were lacking -- until now.

"The FBI does make at least a partial effort to get this information," Fisher said. "They ask police departments across the country to voluntarily report fatal shootings by their officers, but only a small number of those departments bother to do that, so the FBI's reports are extremely incomplete, which is what we found this year when our tally came up with three times as many fatal shootings as the FBI had in each of the preceding nine years."

That doesn't mean there was a huge increase in fatal shootings by police this year, Fisher said. Instead, the numbers show the FBI's deficiency in investigating the data. 

"What's going on is the FBI was really doing a very poor job of collecting this information, which they've now conceded," Fisher said. "And as a result of our series ... they say they're going to take a much more aggressive approach to collecting this information in the future."

In the video above, watch Fisher explain the report's findings, including the situations that most commonly lead to a fatal police shooting.

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