One of the tenets of police abolition is accountability. Police departments have been reluctant to provide statistics on misconduct, and federal efforts to collate data are too non-committed. So what can we do? Call on Congress, ask them to pass laws that mandate police accountability. Find your representative here, and consult this guide on how to talk to them.
Calling members of Congress is the most effective way to have your voice heard. As with letters, legislative staff track the number of calls they receive on various topics. Just a couple phone calls over a short period of time can bring an issue to the attention of your legislator and raise his or her awareness of how strongly their constituents feel about a current issue. The sooner your reach out, the more likely it is that your voice will influence their position.ProLiteracy
And what are we asking for exactly? Depending on where you live, data may already be available, but not from the top. For example, in Chicago, there’s the Citizens Police Data Project. Consider this and the following examples a standard for what you demand.
CPDP takes records of police interactions with the public – records that would otherwise be buried in internal databases – and opens them up to make the data useful to the public, creating a permanent record for every CPD police officer.Invisible Institute
If you live in New York, there’s the Legal Aid Society’s Cop Accountability Project.
Officers can be filtered by county and sorted based on their last name, total settlement amounts associated with 2015-2018 lawsuits they’re named in, the number of 2015-2018 lawsuits they’re named in, county, salary and overtime. The 2015-2018 lawsuits the officers are named in can also be filtered by the types of charges underlying the alleged encounter, the types of allegations, the county of incident, the force detail, etc.CAPstat
The California Police Scorecard utilizes data on a range of policing-related issues to evaluate how each police department interacts with, and the extent to which officers are held accountable to, the communities they serve. The indicators included in this scorecard were selected based on a review of the research literature, input from activists and experts in the field, and a review of existing publicly available datasets on policing in California. The scorecard is designed to help communities, researchers, police leaders and policy-makers take informed action to reduce police use of force and improve accountability and public safety in their jurisdictions.Campaign Zero
Campaign Zero encourages policymakers to focus on solutions with the strongest evidence of effectiveness at reducing police violence.
For a national database, efforts are being made in various places, like The Washington Post’s tracking of fatal police shootings. There is also the Police Data Accessibility Project, a grassroots effort accessed through r/DataPolice. Read about it on Wired.
For more on police abolition and racial justice, visit our Features page.