Police Brutality: Perception Versus Reality, What the Numbers Show

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- In the past 16 months, several high profile officer involved shooting cases have steadily caught the country's attention. Most recently in Des Moines, an officer was cleared of any wrong doing after shooting an unarmed man through her squad car window.

Some are questioning if the frequency of these incidents is growing or if the public is just more aware.

Jerome Mozee said he can hardly keep track, "I'm always on Facebook watching the police brutality."

Mozee was five when his father, Jerome Sr., was shot and killed by Des Moines Police in April of 1999. He was unarmed.

"It's just so sad to see him go so soon. I didn't really get as chance with him," said Mozee Jr.

His family said the department's lack of transparency was immediate, claiming officers told them they "took of care of that son of a [expletive]." Ever since, they have been skeptical of officers' intentions and worry what happened to them is becoming an increasing trend nationwide.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, confidence in police is at a 22 year low, at just 52%. The last time it's been this low was after the death of Rodney King in Los Angeles.

Not naive to the statistics and the public perception is the next generation of law enforcement.

Close to 90 recruits are currently learning how to respond to the worst case scenarios at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy while fighting to regain trust.

"Everyone's opinion of a police officer right now, I just want to be able to change that," said recruit Jason Sadler.

ILEA Director, Judy Bradshaw echoed, "There is a focus on it at this point. Any inappropriate behavior by law enforcement is a story."

Adding to the public's distrust, criminal justice experts say there is an issue with police transparency.

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, otherwise known at the UCR, 444 people were justifiably shot and killed by police in 2014. That number is the second highest total over the last five years. Federal law and many state laws do not require agencies to submit their data on officer involved shootings.

However, under Iowa statute, it is required but even then the information isn't easy to access.

The UCR does not break down officer involved justifiable homicides or non - justifiable homicides by state like it does for aggravated assaults, rape and robberies. The Iowa Department of Public Safety does not keep track either. Instead each of the state's individual counties and its county attorney collect the data.

A criminal justice professor at Iowa State said gaps like these don't ease the public's negative perception of police.

"With more information, you know you can only make better decisions and better research leads to better policy. So, I think some great benefits would come from that," said Kyle Burgason .

The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy is already in the process of making chances. Bradshaw says a complete instruction overhaul will be complete a year from now.

"The first step will be to train our instructors on this holistic approach and where we are coming from, more of a cultural attitude will change and it comes at all levels of teaching," said Bradshaw.

In hopes a new generation of law will rebuild trust with the next generation of citizens.

"I have a two year old son and a 7 month old daughter, I'm trying to at least see them grow up. My dad didn’t have that chance," said Mozee Jr.

Currently the FBI is working to better collect data of officer involved shootings both fatal and non - fatal. According its website, they are determining what information is the best information to collect and how to gather it.