Professor: Data lacking in tracking police assaults

Professor: Data lacking in tracking police assaults
University of Louisville assistant professor Justin Nix (Source: WAVE 3 News)
University of Louisville assistant professor Justin Nix (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The conversation about the shooting in Dallas is reaching into the world of academia as experts try to get a look at statistics and the bigger picture.

One assistant professor in Louisville wants the government to step its efforts to track certain incidents so, he says, police departments do not have to speculate.

"We are, the police are, in some sort of a legitimacy crisis," University of Louisville assistant professor Justin Nix said Friday.

Police legitimacy - boiled down, Nix explained, is a term used to measure how much people trust police and how obligated they feel to obey them.

"On the whole you know, citizens still exhibit a great amount of trust and faith in the police, but you know the last couple of years have been challenging," he said.

Nix is a criminal justice expert at the university. His most recent work focuses on the so-called "war on cops."

He said prior to Thursday night, the number of officers killed was not on the rise. But just the perception that it was, he said, already had taken a toll.

"A good portion of our sample indicated that law enforcement had become more difficult and more dangerous in the six months after Ferguson," Nix said.

A big problem, he believes, is that the government does not track data on how many officers are assaulted.

"The media has kept better data than the government. The government in turn has pledged to keep better data," he said.

Nix hopes the ambush in Dallas will not become a catalyst.

"The last thing we want is for police officers to hesitate to use force where they need to use force," he said.

Copyright 2016 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.