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The Police Data Initiative: A 5-Month Update

Since the launch in May, five additional agencies have committed to opening key data on police interactions with their communities.

Today, as the President addresses attendees at the 122nd annual conference of the Internal Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), he does so against the backdrop of significant police reform efforts. Announced by the President on May 18th, the recommendations made by the Task Force on 21st Century Policing have served as a catalyst for reforms in departments across the country.   Many of the Task Force recommendations were rooted in the goals of building trust between law enforcement and citizens.   Responding to recommendations made by the Task Force, the White House launched the White House Police Data Initiative (PDI), with leading police departments across the country committing to better use data to increase transparency and accountability, and to ultimately improve policing outcomes.

Over the past five months, additional police departments have joined PDI and departments have used community events to help them in their release of data, including the New Orleans’ Police Department release of data to young coders at Operation Spark shared here.  As the President delivers remarks today in front of IACP—which has been a strong supporter of the Police Data Initiative—we wanted to provide you with an update on the progress made by our partners, as well as announce several new commitments: 


  • Since the launch in May, five additional agencies have committed to opening key data on police interactions with their communities, representing diverse parts of the country: Denver, Spokane, Orlando, Tucson, and Fayetteville—bring the total number of agencies to 26.
  • The agencies participating in the Police Data Initiative have already released significant data sets, including Austin, TX, which recently released 14 years’ worth of officer involved shooting data; Louisville, KY, which has made their citizen stop data available down to the block level in near-real time; and Hampton, VA which created a public calendar for citizens to see the community meetings officers have attended. Collectively, PDI agencies have released 40 open data sets to date. All of these data sets can be found on the Police Foundation’s recently launched Public Safety Open Data Portal 
  • The California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) is the first state agency to participate in PDI in an effort to help develop a statewide approach to transparency in criminal justice data.  The CA DOJ, which recently launched its OpenJustice Initiative, will work with law enforcement agencies across California to adopt open data policies, and will also provide tools and resources to help them better utilize their data to inform and improve policy.
  • The University of Chicago Center for Data Science and Public Policy and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department partnered to use predictive analytics to improve the Department's Early Intervention System, beginning work on a predictive model to improve their current early intervention system that we anticipate being substantially more accurate at predicting which officers are likely to have adverse interactions with the public, with a goal to reduce false positives by 25%. 
  • The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office and the Knoxville, TN Police Department have also committed to partnering with the University of Chicago to test and validate the effectiveness of the model in diverse departments across the country.

Yesterday, many of the agencies participating in PDI were at the IACP conference and joined members of the Administration in an IACP hosted session to discuss some of the challenges and successes they have encountered since making commitments and embarking upon this journey. The recurring theme was that this work is a process and not a product. Agencies are working to build sustainable systems that will allow them to better engage with and serve the citizens in their communities. The work is not easy, but it is absolutely critical. We look forward to providing additional updates in the months ahead.

Roy L. Austin, Jr. is the Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice & Opportunity.