HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C., has a new “Use-of-Force Data Collection” program that launched January 1, 2019, following a fairly successful pilot study. It was developed in response to requests by local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement agencies to provide more public transparency regarding police use-of-force activity from around the country. The database covers non-lethal and lethal uses of force, as well as the discharge of a firearm at or near a person.
The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have historically pored through police use-of-force stories published in media, but in 2014, the DOJ determined that such a system was inadequate. This approach was used because Federal law prohibits forcing law enforcement agencies to participate in federal data collection programs, as local and state agencies are recognized as autonomous.
The purpose of the program is not to report statistics on individual specific use-of-force incidents. Its intent is to deliver an aggregate view of as many incidents as possible along with information regarding the circumstances, subjects, and officers involved in use-of-force incidents. It reveals police, subject and citizen injury and death statistics. Public reports are issued twice a year.
Slowly, the program is experiencing increased participation. During the program’s pilot study, there were only seven law enforcement agencies in Florida who submitted data. Nationally, only 98 participated. Today, approximately 37% of law enforcement agencies, law enforcement-related college, university, and tribal operations, and 27 affiliated non-law enforcement agencies participate.
Pinellas County Sheriff, Bob Gualtieri, stated in the FBI’s Use-of-Force data collection video that “lack of data breeds public distrust.”
The nation’s dependence on media news reports regarding police use-of-force incidents has affected the public perception of police matters, such as police brutality and racism. As more law enforcement agencies participate, it appears the Use-of-Force Data Collection program will give a more accurate reflection of how our police officers interact with persons of all races, nationalities, creeds, and genders.
Contact your local police or sheriff’s office for further information. To review the Use-of-Force Data Collection video, visit fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/use-of-force.