Blog by Christine Grillo: “For María Mari-Narváez, a recent decision by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico was both a victory and a moment of reckoning. The Court granted Kilómetro Cero, a citizen-led police accountability project in Puerto Rico, full access to every use-of-force report filed by the Puerto Rico Police Department since 2014. The decision will make it possible for advocates such as Mari to get a clear picture of how state police officers are using force, and when that use of force crosses the line into abuse. But the court victory flooded her small organization with data.
“We won, finally, and then I realized I was going to be receiving thousands of documents that I had zero capacity to process,” says Mari.
“One of the things that’s important to me when analyzing data is to find out where the gaps are, why those gaps exist, and what those gaps represent.” —Tarak Shah, data scientist
The Court made its decision in April 2021, and the police department started handing over PDF files in July. By the end, there could be up to 10,000 documents that get turned in. In addition to incident reports, the police had to provide their use-of-force database. Combined, the victory provides a complicated mixture of quantitative and qualitative data that can be analyzed to answer questions about what the state police are doing to its citizens during police interventions. In particular, Kilómetro Cero, which Mari founded, wants to find out if some Puerto Ricans are more likely to be victims of police violence than others.
“We’re looking for bias,” says Mari. “Bias against poor people, or people who live in a certain neighborhood. Gender bias. Language bias. Bias against drug users, sex workers, immigrants, people who don’t have a house. We’re trying to analyze the language of vulnerability.”…(More)”.