Police Departments Avoid Sharing Use of Force Information

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For the second straight year only about 27 percent of police departments have supplied data to the National Use-of-Force Data Collection program launched in 2019, reports the Washington Post. In 2019, only 27 percent of law enforcement agencies contributed information, covering 41 percent of all officers. For 2020, the total again was 27 percent of agencies, covering 42 percent of officers, the FBI’s website reports. In a statement, the bureau said it has been reaching out to departments to encourage additional participation and that final 2020 numbers, which are still being compiled, would cover 50 percent of officers nationwide. But the submission of such data by the police is voluntary. And attempts to induce the police to supply the numbers so far haven’t worked. Chief Steven Casstevens of the Buffalo Grove, Ill. Police Department, and a recent president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, advocated for tying the use-of-force data to federal grant funds.

However, a recent Congressional Research Service study found that many smaller jurisdictions don’t receive federal funds and that losing a portion of federal funds might be preferable to the time it took to compile the data. Last year, 5,030 out of 18,514 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide provided use-of-force data, the FBI reported. In 2019, the number of agencies was slightly higher, 5,043 out of 18,514 agencies. In 2020, 29 out of 114 federal agencies participated, though the 29 contributors represented 74 percent of federal officers. With less than 60 percent participation, the FBI has said it will only release a list of who contributed data. With more, the FBI “may” publish ratios and percentages for individual states, and will release national level data at 80 percent participation. But at no stage will it release data for individual agencies.

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