On March 6, 2018, all 586 agencies in Tennessee signed on to participate in the data collection program via the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), making Tennessee the second state to enroll as a bulk contributor. Yeselin Melendrez, CJIS support specialist for the TBI, explained that the Tennessee legislature passed a bill requiring the TBI to publish an annual report regarding deaths related to law enforcement. The legislation came about after a highly publicized use-of-force death in Memphis in 2016. “Our agency was interested in the details about these occurrences and how we could use this information to possibly educate the public, our elected officials, and law enforcement,” she said. “We believe the community will appreciate the transparency.”
Melendrez believes the National Use-of-Force Data Collection will assist law enforcement agencies in developing specialized training on how to handle use-of-force confrontations and similar topics. “We hope that our data can assist law enforcement officers in preparing for whatever they may encounter in a use-of-force situation,” she said.
From his perspective, Luebbers thinks the data in the collection can help agencies analyze their own use-of-force patterns as well as the patterns of other agencies. “Identifying patterns and trends can help agencies prioritize any specific training needs and determine if policies need to change,” he said.
The merit of improving use-of-force training and policies, Melendrez believes, “lies in saving live—both law enforcement and the public.” Luebbers agreed, saying, “The preservation of human life is of the highest value in Ohio.”
Based on her agency’s experience, Melendrez recommends that other agencies participate in the Use-of-Force Data Collection. “The information will be useful to you, your lawmakers, your fellow law enforcement agencies, and the public in general,” she said. Luebbers added, “We strongly encourage agencies to participate, as this knowledge sharing is a benefit for all.”
The FBI is aware of budget and time constraints already placed upon law enforcement agencies. In efforts to decrease financial and time burdens, the FBI developed two methods of data submission. Agencies may use the use-of-force portal application housed on the FBI’s Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) to enter applicable use-of-force incidents individually, which requires zero financial investment. Agencies may also choose to use bulk submission. The FBI is encouraging law enforcement agencies planning to participate in this collection to apply for LEEP accounts at www.cjis.gov. If your law enforcement agency is interested in enrolling or would like more information, visit www.fbi.gov/useofforce, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 304-625-9998.