National Use-of-Force Data Collection
National Use-of-Force Data Collection
Police-involved shootings and use of force have long been topics of national discussion, but a number of high-profile cases in which subjects died during arrests or while in police custody have heightened awareness of these incidents in recent years. However, the opportunity to analyze information related to use-of-force incidents and to have an informed dialogue is hindered by the lack of nationwide statistics. To address the topic, representatives from major law enforcement organizations have been working in collaboration with the FBI to develop a national use-of-force data collection.
With a national data collection, data users can view use-of-force incidents involving law enforcement from a nationwide perspective. The goal of the resulting statistics is not to offer insight into single use-of-force incidents but to provide an aggregate view of the incidents reported and the circumstances, subjects, and officers involved. The data collected will focus on information that is readily known and can be reported within the first few days after a use-of-force occurrence. Statistical reports will emphasize the collective nature of the data and will not assess whether the officers involved in use-of-force incidents acted lawfully or within the bounds of department policy.
What data will be collected about use of force?
The collection and reporting of use-of-force data will include any use of force that results in the death or serious bodily injury of a person, as well as when a law enforcement officer discharges a firearm at or in the direction of a person. The definition of serious bodily injury will be based, in part, upon the 18 U.S.C. 2246 (4). The term “‘serious bodily injury’ means bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.” The use-of-force data collection will include incident information, subject information, and officer information.
Role of the FBI
With the input of its law enforcement partners, the FBI is developing a repository for use-of-force information and will periodically release statistics to the public. The Bureau will publish descriptive information on trends and characteristics of the data.
Role of law enforcement agencies
The FBI has received positive feedback from the law enforcement community about implementing a national use-of-force data collection. Many agencies already publish use-of-force statistics for their constituents and have made transparency a priority in their communities.
For the national data collection, each agency will be responsible for reporting information for their own officers connected to incidents that meet the criteria of the data collection. Submission of data is entirely voluntary. Most law enforcement agencies in the United States already report various types of law enforcement data to the FBI, either directly or through their state agencies. Part of the plan for the use-of-force data collection includes an opportunity for agencies to report use-of-force incidents electronically through a web application in the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP).
Key Events in the Development of a National Use-of-Force Data Collection
February 12, 2015: In a speech at Georgetown University, FBI Director James B. Comey stated that the FBI would lead efforts to establish a reliable system for law enforcement to report information on use-of-force incidents.
June 3, 2015: The Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board (APB) of the FBI recommended the FBI develop a new data collection on fatal and nonfatal officer-involved shootings.
September 18, 2015: Representatives from major law enforcement organizations met and proposed an expansion to the FBI’s efforts to include uses of force that result in serious bodily injury.
December 3, 2015: The APB approved a series of motions to establish a new data collection on law enforcement use of force. February 9, 2016 – FBI Director Comey signed the APB recommendations.
January 27, 2016: The National Use-of-Force Collection Task Force, comprised of law enforcement leaders from across the United States, convened for the first in a series of meetings.
About the National Use-of-Force Data Collection Task Force
National organizations and other law enforcement representatives who have partnered with the FBI to develop the National Use-of-Force Data Collection Task Force include:
- Local, tribal, and federal agency representatives
- Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies
- Association of State Uniform Crime Reporting Programs
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Major Cities Chiefs Association
- Major County Sheriffs’ Association
- National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
- National Sheriffs’ Association
- Police Executive Research Forum
Representatives have been involved in many hours of discussions and decision making. They have been instrumental in conceiving reporting requirements, data elements, and publication concepts. Other entities that have been involved include the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services, the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.