Public calls for data and transparency about police actions have increased in light of widely publicized incidents and patterns of police violence. Opening more data to the public about police actions is one reform recommended by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. It also has become a key component of the Police Data Initiative (PDI), a pilot program launched by President Obama in May 2015 that brings together federal government agencies, local police departments, community organizers, and industry stakeholders to increase transparency in policing and improve trust between communities and police departments. As of fall 2015, 26 police departments, a tiny fraction of the 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies operating across the country, have signed on to participate in the PDI by pledging to release more than 100 previously unshared data sets on police-citizen interactions.
This document is a workshop primer from Data & Civil Rights: A New Era of Policing and Justice.