The problem: In the United States, there is an astounding dearth of data about violent encounters between police officers and citizens. Only 3% of the nation’s 18,000 police departments report this information federally. The lack of comprehensive and timely information about police use of force is exacerbating the divide between officers and citizens. Public confidence in police has hit a 22 year low and every published video of police using force deepens the divide. As a nation, we need to rebuild trust between police officers and citizens, which begins witha fair and unbiased understanding of the issue at hand. That’s why we need better data and a lot more of it.
To encourage police departments to publish data by lowering the technology barriers and building trust through citizen engagement, we’re building open source web tools for law enforcement to easily collect, report, and publish police use of force data according to a common data standard.
Our first product is a web tool called URSUS, built with the CA Attorney General and Department of Justice to help all 800 law enforcement agencies in California collect and report use of force data. At no cost. We hope that work can give both officers and citizen a voice, laying the foundation for rebuilding trust between law enforcement and our communities.