Criminologist Philip Stinson of Bowling Green University has published an extensive police crime database offering the most comprehensive look ever at how often U.S. cops are arrested, as well as some early insights into the consequences they face for breaking the laws they’re supposed to enforce, Vice reports.
The dataset includes 8,006 arrest incidents resulting in 13,623 charges involving 6,596 police officers from 2005 through 2012, with more years of data to come. Nearly half these incidents were violent. The data cover 2,830 state, local, and special law enforcement agencies across all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
That’s a small fraction of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies and 1.1 million sworn officers in the U.S., so the data set is not comprehensive, but it’s the most extensive and ambitious look at cop crime to date.
“It’s not as rare as you might think. It happens at all stages of officers’ careers, and at all ranks,” Stinson said. Police misconduct — and seeming impunity — has drawn increasing scrutiny since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo. Stinson’s database is the only public effort that attempts to track all alleged crimes by police. The federal government doesn’t collect data on most arrests or convictions of police officers. Stinson tracks these incidents using a combination of media reports and court records.
His data indicate about 1,000 officer arrests per year over the eight years of the data set, and nearly 1,140 arrests per year from 2008 through 2012. That doesn’t necessarily mean that police crime has increased since 2005, or gotten more violent. Stinson’s methodology has become more sophisticated, and it’s possible the data could change because of variations in the search algorithms he uses to find cases.