THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still seeing a rise in the amount of officer-involved shootings across the state, the GBI director Vernon Keenan said the level of violence directed at law enforcement is at an all-time high.
"I think the use of force against law enforcement is exceedingly high, in fact, I think there is an epidemic across the United States," said Kennan.
Strong words from Keenan as the department worked four officer-involved shootings across the state this week, two of those being early Friday morning.
"These are very serious investigations, the public expects and has a right to a detail investigation and accountability into what has happened with use of force," said Kennan.
Keenan said he reviews every case of use of force that the GBI investigates, he believes a lot of these stem from crisis calls and sometimes drug use.
"Law enforcement officers are now receiving specialized training in dealing with persons with mental illness, that training is helping law enforcement officers to de-escalate situations, it's not going to prevent use of force in all situations in which officers are dealing with a person with mental illness," said Kennan.
In order to accurately keep track of the use of force data across the nation, the FBI is launching a national use of force data collection project.
Keenan hopes departments across the state of Georgia will participate in the project.
"All of the major law enforcement agencies in the nation including major county sheriff's, national sheriff's associations, went to the FBI to have a national use of force data collection database. It is an embarrassment that the nation has to rely on media reports to explain and detail what is happening with use of force, we need our own data collection project," said Kennan.
Keenan said this will help pinpoint key issues and how to solve them going forward.
"What this will do will give us the facts, and combat the rhetoric that accuses all officers of routinely using excessive force when that is not what is occurring, I know it's not occurring in our state," said Kennan.
According to Keenan, the FBI is now signing up agencies for the project.