GREAT BARRINGTON -- Chief William Walsh reports that the Great Barrington Police Department has joined a nationwide database to catalog the use of force by law enforcement officers.

Through its participation in the FBI's National Use-of-Force Data Collection program, the Great Barrington Police Department will contribute to the database in order to help promote more informed conversations regarding police use of force.

The Great Barrington Police Department joins hundreds of police departments nationwide in reaffirming their commitment to better data, which can be used to develop policies and procedures and build a stronger understanding of when, why and how officers use force when detaining suspects.

The FBI collects a variety of critical data, including identifying when a person is seriously injured or dies as a result of police use of force, as well as when a firearm is used, even if nobody is injured. Serious injury is defined as an instance in which a person's injuries pose substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, protracted and obvious damage to a person's body or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part of a person's body.

The Great Barrington Police Department has had no incidents that fall within these parameters, but is committed to reporting them should they occur in the future.

"This is a comprehensive data program that we're eager to be involved with, as it will help us better understand the circumstances our peers in other towns and cities nationwide are facing when force is used," Chief Walsh said. "Becoming forceful -- and especially discharging our weapons -- is always our last resort as police officers, and we are hopeful that this project will contribute toward a better understanding of what we can do to deescalate situations and enhance both public and officer safety."

The FBI's Use-Of-Force data initiative will collect over two dozen data points that will ultimately help to create a broader understanding of the circumstances surrounding use of force on a national scale. For more information on the program and the data it collects, click here.

The National Use-of-Force Data Collection is supported by the Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, Association of State UCR Programs, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum.

(press release sent to WSBS from the Great Barrington Police Department for online and on-air use)