A Saint Louis University faculty member is optimistic about the U.S. Justice Department’s announcement that it is developing a national database on interactions between police and civilians to provide transparency about law enforcement’s engagement with the citizens and sees this as a positive step to build trust between police and communities. Keon L. Gilbert, DrPH, associate professor of behavioral science and health education at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, has conducted research on police shootings of African-American males and proposed immediate, concrete steps to address what he calls is a public health problem. He calls the database “a positive policy change” because data is not currently collected from all states. “Hopefully this initiative will lead to mandatory reporting from all police departments. Without it, there will be systematic under-reporting and biased reporting of incidents involving police and citizens, whether it’s a shooting, stop and frisk incident or excessive use of force,” Gilbert said. “Without these data we will never be able to really understand the issue and its underlying causes.”

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