Civil Rights Group Launches National Database on Police Use of Force

Civil Rights Group Launches National Database on Police Use of Force

WASHINGTON — The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund recently launched Accountable Now, a national repository that collects use-of-force data from law enforcement agencies across the U.S. As an open-source database designed for the general public, Accountable Now makes it easier than ever for the public to examine racial and other demographic disparities in how their cities are policed. 

Police departments rarely make use-of-force statistics public voluntarily, and the federal government has failed to set uniform data collection standards to ensure consistency and transparency. Accountable Now tackles this problem by collecting available data that aims to include information such as the location of an incident, type of force used, the race of officers and community members involved, injuries sustained, and much more. Accountable Now is working with the non-partisan research organization, NORC at the University of Chicago, to continually clean and harmonize this information in a data explorer beta tool, which lets users compare use-of-force statistics across police departments. The data explorer tool is launching today with data from five cities: Indianapolis, Ind.; New Orleans, La.; Baltimore, Md.; Austin, TX; and Dallas, TX.

“For almost a decade, civil rights advocates have been pushing for a national database on police use of force to bring greater transparency and accountability to our law enforcement system,” said Lynda Garcia, senior director of the policing program at The Leadership Conference. “Accurate data is critical to revealing the disproportionate impact police violence has on communities of color. To fix a problem, you need to know how extensive it is. Accountable Now will help communities stay informed, push for real reform, and help to dismantle systemic racism in policing.”

Accountable Now users are invited to request data from their local officials, file public records request letters, and input relevant datasets themselves. This crowdsourcing campaign will complement The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund’s direct advocacy efforts at the local and national levels for transparency and accountability in law enforcement. To that end, the organizations have set a goal of collecting data from 1,000 police departments in 2021.

Methodology
All use of force data on the beta data explorer tool was collected from local police departments made available to the public by city governments. NORC harmonized the data by developing consistent definitions for key events and participant characteristics, then creating new variables with those consistent definitions. The Data Explorer reports on these harmonized data. The underlying incident-level data and the source data will both be available to end-users in the near future. 

To learn more, visit www.accountablenow.com.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal and state policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit https://civilrights.org/edfund/.

NORC at the University of Chicago is an objective, non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. www.norc.org