NEW YORK — House Republicans have approved a bill that would fund an app that would help Americans better understand their loved ones who have been killed by police, an effort that will add to a growing body of research on the effects of police violence.
The bill, H.R. 517, would give states $5,000 to fund a data-analysis tool for law enforcement agencies.
In addition, it would provide $5.6 million to help states better track the deaths of people shot by police officers, and would give $2.5 million to a group that helps communities better understand and respond to the death of police officers.
The new legislation, which passed the House Judiciary Committee late Monday afternoon, comes amid rising concern about the use of deadly force by police and an ongoing wave of protests over the death and abuse of black men at the hands of white officers in New York, Chicago and elsewhere.
Critics have charged that the app, which is not yet available to the public, will give police officers an advantage and undermine the ability of the American people to determine whether their loved one was in danger, or even that the death was a justified use of force.
Critics have also pointed to studies suggesting that the use or abuse of force by law enforcement has become more widespread than they had anticipated.
The bill would provide an additional $5m to support data-collection efforts, said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., who authored the bill.
A group of more than 50 Democrats, led by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., also wrote the bill to increase federal funding for law-enforcement agencies to track killings.
The measure, the Violent Deaths Tracking Program, or VDT, is part of a nationwide program to track deaths from shootings by police.
The law also provides $2 million for a research program on the role of social media in helping to reduce crime, according to a copy of the bill obtained by The Associated Press.
There is little evidence that the increased scrutiny of the use and abuse by police has led to increased crime.
A study released last month found that more than 4,000 homicides in the United States had been solved after police made social media posts.
But it did find that social media was a factor in at least one incident, when a Florida man who had been arrested on suspicion of stealing a truck was shot and killed by an off-duty officer.
Other recent research has suggested that the increase in the use, abuse and deaths of police has increased public distrust of law enforcement and increased crime in some communities, particularly communities of color.