Launching the Police Data Initiative

Megan Smith and Roy L. Austin, the White House: “Last December, President Obama launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to better understand specific policing challenges and help communities identify actions they can take to improve law enforcement and enhance community engagement. Since that time, we have seen law enforcement agencies around the country working harder than ever to make the promise of community policing real.

Many of the Task Force’s recommendations emphasize the opportunity for departments to better use data and technology to build community trust. As a response, the White House has launched the Police Data Initiative, which has mobilized 21 leading jurisdictions across the country to take fast action on concrete deliverables responding to these Task Force recommendations in the area of data and technology. Camden is one such jurisdiction.

By finding innovative work already underway in these diverse communities and bringing their leaders together with top technologists, researchers, data scientists and design experts, the Police Data Initiative is helping accelerate progress around data transparency and analysis, toward the goal of increased trust and impact. Through the Initiative, key stakeholders are establishing a community of practice that will allow for knowledge sharing, community-sourced problem solving, and the establishment of documented best practices that can serve as examples for police departments nationwide….

Commitment highlights include:

1. Use open data to build transparency and increase community trust.

  • All 21 police departments have committed to release a combined total of 101 data sets that have not been released to the public. The types of data include uses of force, police pedestrian and vehicle stops, officer involved shootings and more, helping the communities gain visibility into key information on police/citizen encounters.
    • Code for America and others are helping on this. For information on how Police Departments can jumpstart their open police data efforts, click here.
  • To make police open data easy to find and use, the Police Foundation and ESRI are building a public safety open data portal to serve, in part, as a central clearinghouse option for police open data, making it easily accessible to law enforcement agencies, community groups and researchers.
  • Code for America and CI Technologies will work together to build an open source software tool to make it easier for the 500+ U.S. law enforcement agencies using IA Pro police integrity software to extract and open up data.
  • To make it easier for agencies to share data with the public about policing, Socrata will provide technical assistance to cities and agencies who are working toward increased transparency.
  • To help this newly released data come alive for communities through mapping, visualizations and other tools, city leaders, non-profit organizations, and private sector partners will host open data hackathons in cities around the country. In New Orleans, Operation Spark, a non-profit organization that teaches at-risk New Orleans youth software development skills, will work with data opened by the New Orleans Police Department at a weeklong code academy.
  • Presidential Innovation Fellows working with the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Chief Data Scientist will work collaboratively with key stakeholders, such as Code for America and the Sunlight Foundation, to develop and release an Open Data Playbook for police departments that they can use as a reference for open data best practices and case studies.
  • The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is working with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to use open data to provide a full picture of key policing activities, including stops, searches and use-of-force trends, information and demographics on neighborhoods patrolled, and more. This partnership will build on a website and tools already developed by the Southern Coalition for Justice which provide visualization and search functions to make this data easily accessible and understandable.
  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Foundation, and Code for America have committed to helping grow a community of practice for law enforcement agencies and technologists around open data and transparency in police community interactions.

2. Internal accountability and effective data analysis.

  • While many police departments have systems in place, often called “early warning systems,” to identify officers who may be having challenges in their interactions with the public and link them with training and other assistance, there has been little to no research to determine which indicators are most closely linked to bad outcomes. To tackle this issue, twelve police departments committed to sharing data on police/citizen encounters with data scientists for in-depth data analysis, strengthening the ability of police to intervene early and effectively: Austin, TX; Camden, NJ; Charlotte, NC; Dallas, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Knoxville, TN; LA City; LA County; Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA; and Richmond, CA….(More)