Use of Force Reporting Challenges

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Currently there is not a single United States wide system for Use of Force reporting. Four states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Texas) are implementing state-wide reporting requirements with California’s just becoming effective January 1, 2017. Individual State by State adoption of Use of Force reporting is not the answer to providing consistent and accurate data that law enforcement agencies can use to measure how their agency uses force. The result is inconsistent reporting of Use of Force across the United States. There needs to be a nationwide standard and mechanism for collecting Use of Force data.

Here are a few of the problems faced with when trying to create a national system for reporting Use of Force:
1. There is currently no uniform definition of Use of Force. For example, some agencies require their officers to document it when an officer draws his/her weapon but does not fire it, while other agencies do not.
2. There is no consistency between agencies for internal force review.
3. Some agencies are more transparent about their Use of Force outcomes while others are not.
4. Without a clear definition of Use of Force and with the lack of consistent reporting there can be no opportunity for agencies to compare and learn from other agencies throughout the United States.

Agency reporting issue which needs to be addressed:
1. Approximately 75% of the estimated 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States have 25 or fewer sworn personnel. Approximately 50% have 10 or fewer officers. The result is that a large majority of agencies do not have the financial resources and necessary personnel to report Use of Force instances.

Required Remedies:
1. Adoption by all agencies of a clear national definition of Use of Force.
2. National mandatory reporting of Use of Force data.
3. National repository of Use of Force data.
4. Ability to compare agency to agency data. This would be necessary in order to provide valid data for agencies with similar demographics and rates of crime.
5. The federal and state governments need to support agencies by providing grant money to collect such data, particularly to smaller agencies.

Reference Sources:
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/why-doesn-t-government-track-nationwide-police-use-force-n682626 
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/most-states-spotty-reporting-police-use-force-data-n682711
http://www.aele.org/law/2015all06/2015-06MLJ501.pdf
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-22/california-launches-first-statewide-system-to-track-police-use-of-force

Written By: George (LEFTA Systems)

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