Still encountering

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

How about an update on Fatal Encounters? Fatal Encounters was part of our project last year to look at the various issues regarding officer-involved homicides. I now tend to call them “officer-involved deaths,” since so many people equate homicide with murder, but I'm still a little irritated that I have to modify my own language so as not to upset the ignorant.

Anyway, part of the project was the database I was building, which eventually became a 501(c)3. In the database, fatalencounters.org, I attempt to track 17 details of incidents of law enforcement-involved deaths. We get our information through a combination of crowdsourcing volunteers, public records requests and paid volunteers who cull through media accounts. (I call them “paid volunteers” because there's no way they're being fully compensated for their time. It's more of a stipend.)

In the four months since the newspaper's part of this ended, we've added nearly 2,000 entries, putting us up to 6,200 records. We figure at our current rate, we'll be finished with the database in about 99 weeks.

We've gotten love from around the world for our efforts. Here's a story that ran in the Netherlands last week: www.volkskrant.nl/opinie/hopelijk-kan-obama-zwart-en-blank-verzoenen~a3986497, which I think is cool because I can't read a word of it except my name. I've got an on-camera interview with China Central TV's flagship talkshow, The Heat, tomorrow, and producers from Real Money with Ali Velshi coming to Reno to watch our process at the house.

The New York Times had us on the front page on May 1. http://ow.ly/Mmmm9. They were pretty generous, saying among other things, “Fatal Encounters, maintained by D. Brian Burghart, the publisher of the Reno News & Review, may be the most meticulous aggregator of reports of killings by the police.”

That Times piece bought us some credibility. People are quoting from it, using the Times' analysis of our data as proof of legitimacy: http://ow.ly/MrQ2o.

But get ready, we aren't going to rest on our laurels. There are always a few new things in development.