About this series

Fatal Encounters is a project by the Reno News & Review that is intended to run through the end of the year. In this series, we will focus on six specific areas that fall under the umbrella of “When law enforcement kills.” The six areas planned will be media and government; who gets killed; protocol, training and outcomes; state comparisons; emotional effects on officers; and an examination of the issue on a national level.

Our series is part of a larger, distributed effort by groups as diverse as CopWatch and the National Sheriff’s Association to encourage the U.S. Department of Justice to collect specific information in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. The idea is to collect circumstances of police violence around the country in order to enable law enforcement agencies to make data-based comparisons and to modify policies and procedures to emulate the best practices of other agencies. The UCR is the same place where data relating to the death of police in the line of duty is kept. The collection of this data will also allow citizens to know whether their own local law enforcement agencies are humanely and safely responding to situations in which deadly force may be called for.

This series is not about bad cops. Indeed, one thing that has become apparent in researching this series is the insane circumstances under which police must do their jobs. We’ve found nothing so far to indicate that any of the 30 incidents we’ve looked at within Washoe County are anything but “clean.” This series looks at protocol, with the hope that changes in policy can create better outcomes for both police and citizens.

All documents will be accessible through the Fatal Encounters website, for use by the public, law enforcement and journalists. For specific Nevada incidents, start on the map page and click on the icons. The site contains tools that allow members of law enforcement, journalists and the public to analyze the data through maps, spreadsheets and a comparative database. It will also allow anyone who chooses to upload data to go to a form that will automatically populate the spreadsheet and the maps, and after verification, the comparative database. Finally, there is a database of all 17,986 state and local law enforcement agencies to enable the public to file their own public records requests, although we’ve pretty much hit up all the Nevada law enforcement agencies.