Bayes Impact, California Department of Justice, State of California
As more violent encounters between police and civilians occur across the country, the need for better data in policing has never been more clear. According to the FBI, only 3% of the nation's 18,000 departments report police use of force. There are no federal mandatory reporting requirements or even a unified definition of "use of force." The lack of data undermines the ability of the public to review the activities of their police and ultimately widens the trust gap between civilians and police.
With the launch of URSUS, California will be the first state in the nation to make comprehensive police use of force data available to the public. URSUS implements Assembly Bill 71 (AB71), the first legislation in the country to mandate law enforcement to collect and report police "use of force" data throughout California. The data will be posted on California's criminal justice data portal, OpenJustice, in early 2017. URSUS, named after the bear on the California flag, is a web-based tool that allows law enforcement agencies in California to digitally collect and report uses of force that results in serious bodily injury or death of a civilian or peace officer. URSUS streamlines data reporting for agencies through the application's automated error checking and dynamic screening questions. The application also provides a suite of analytical tools for agencies to track and understand incidents, including features such as interactive charts and pivot tables. Upon launch, the tool will be made available to all 800 police departments in California. A public demonstration of the tool is available at https://ursusdemo.doj.ca.gov.
Peace Engineering Takeaway
Data has the potential to hold governments accountable as well as work within existing systems to make operations more transparent and accessible to citizens. Developing trust between parties has the potential to reduce violent conflict.