Use of Force Data and Transparency
At least 21 states require data collection on some aspect of law enforcement use-of-force incidents.
The amount and kind of data that is collected varies state by state, though reports of officer involved deaths are required by law in at least 16 states. Other common topics include use of force resulting in serious bodily injury, officer involved shootings, officer discipline, and citizen complaints surrounding use of force, among others.
Data is usually reported by individual law enforcement agencies and then collected and summarized or published by a state agency. For example, California’s law requires law enforcement agencies to annually submit data to the state department of justice in a manner determined by the attorney general. The justice department is then required to summarize the information annually and post the summary to the department’s OpenJustice data portal.
Most state laws resemble California’s in terms of structure, with local requirements to report to the state level followed by state agency analysis of the data, but there are a handful of exceptions. In Hawaii, the chief of each county police department submits reports directly to the legislature. Missouri’s law authorizes collection of some data at the local level but does not require collection or publication of data.
To whom the data is reported varies across states, but most laws require public disclosure or publication of the information. Nearly half of the states require that some portion of the data or summary information be available online. Other means of publication include publicly available reports or mandated reporting to legislatures, governors, or other governmental entities. In Maryland for example, data is reported to the Police Standards and Training Commission.
Often these reports on law enforcement use of force are required on a yearly basis, though sometimes more frequently. Illinois, for example, requires data to be submitted on a monthly basis and Oregon requires information to be “periodically” compiled and published by local agencies.
In some states use-of-force reporting requirements exist as standalone laws, while others are tied to broader traffic stop data collection or the investigation process that follows a use-of- force incident. In a handful of states officers have an affirmative legal duty to report specific data to their supervisor or another identified party when they observe excessive force. For a full review of affirmative duties to report see the Legal Duties and Liabilities section of the database.
Using the Database
The database can be navigated by using state and subtopic filters. Text searching is available for statutory summaries or statutory language contained in the database. The map is also interactive and allows you to more quickly select multiple states to review―just hold down the control key to select more than one state. Use the reset button at the top left to clear all filters and start a new search.
Note that this database only contains statutory provisions that address each policy area. Case law, regulations or agency policy may further impact the current state of the law in each state. This database also does not address policies adopted by local jurisdictions or law enforcement agencies.