Obtaining, Organizing, and Opening Police Misconduct Data

NACDL’s Full Disclosure Project co-hosted a 4-day online convening in collaboration with the Invisible Institute and WITNESS in November 2021 to bring together practitioners to discuss the potential benefits and harms of collecting and disseminating policing data and connect data collections efforts with organizing aimed at effecting change. The report aims to share the key principles, tensions and practices that we discussed; help guide ongoing conversations and development of best practices; and inform future project planning and funding decisions. [Released March 2023]


Report cover: Obtaining, Organizing, and Opening Police Misconduct Data Hosted by WITNESS, Invisible Institute & National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Full Disclosure Project (February 2023)Access to data about policing has become the subject of increased advocacy and as police data has become increasingly available in the United States, a growing cottage industry has arisen around collecting, analyzing, and publicizing information about policing.

NACDL’s Full Disclosure Project, for example, has been empowering defenders with databases to track police misconduct since 2020. The project has built databases in seven states, helping partners collect records on over 100,000 officers.

A great deal of police misconduct is revealed through litigation that the government fails to document. A Judge can determine an officer lied in their testimony and nothing happens. The department never finds out, the officer faces no consequences, and prosecutors still call that officer to testify as a credible witness in other cases. We are trying to document these occurrences to interject some accountability into the system.

— Julie Ciccolini, Director of the Full Disclosure Project

Some of the key themes that emerged from conversations among grassroots organizers, advocates, data scientists, journalists, lawyers, advocates and funders include: 

  • The importance of protecting privacy, agency and humanity of people whose experiences of policing are reflected in the data, and offer prevention tools and material support.
  • Involve those who are most directly impacted by policing in the data collection, analysis and dissemination process. 
  • There is no “objective” data.
  • Decisions about which data to collect and how to describe and publicize it are subjective and political.
  • Institutions and organizations with greater access to data must commit to making the information available and sharing it with directly impacted communities.

Learn more about the Full Disclosure Project  Learn more about the convening

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