June 15, 2017

The National Use-of-Force Data Collection

Logo for the National Use-of-Force Data Collection (CJIS Link Article)


America Has Questions About Police Use of Force

Police-involved shootings and use of force have long been topics of national discussion, but a number of high-profile cases in which subjects died during arrests or while in police custody have heightened awareness of these incidents in recent years. However, the opportunity to analyze information related to use-of-force incidents and to have an informed dialogue is hindered by the lack of nationwide statistics. To address the topic, representatives from major law enforcement organizations have been working in collaboration with the FBI to develop a national use-of-force data collection.

With a national data collection, data users can view use-of-force incidents involving law enforcement from a nationwide perspective. The goal of the resulting statistics is not to offer insight into single use-of-force incidents but to provide an aggregate view of the incidents reported and the circumstances, subjects, and officers involved. The data collected will focus on information that is readily known and can be reported within the first few days after a use-of-force occurrence. Statistical reports will emphasize the collective nature of the data and will not assess whether the officers involved in use-of-force incidents acted lawfully or within the bounds of department policy.

Using Facts to Get Answers

The Crime Data Modernization Team, working with partners in the CJIS Division and across the police community, created the new National Use-of-Force Data Collection to provide more facts to the police and the public about use-of-force events. The program gathers data about incidents in which police officers use force that results in the death or serious bodily injury of a person and incidents of police officers discharging firearms at or in the direction of a person.

Data about use-of-force events will provide statistics that will help measure the issue, find areas of concern, allow more informed talks, and find better answers about police use of force. The study of these data will also help differentiate between isolated events and trends involving these incidents.

How It Works

The National Use-of-Force Data Collection will gather facts about the circumstances, subjects, and officers involved in use-of-force incidents. To protect privacy, the data collection will not include specifics about cases, disclose the names of people involved, or provide opinions on whether uses of force were justified. The system will gather details such as:

  • Date, time, and reason for contact

  • Age, sex, race, and ethnicity of subject(s)

  • Whether the officer(s) was on duty or injured

Participating police and federal law enforcement agencies will submit monthly use-of-force reports with an easy-to-use online tool. If agencies have no events to report for a month, they will simply send a Zero Report that takes just seconds to submit.

The National Use-of-Force Data Collection will help police and federal law enforcement agency leaders gather, report, and see their own data at the local level. The collection will also provide data about events in a specific region, in a state, or across the nation. Police agencies will access and submit their data through the FBI’s Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) on the Internet. Agencies can also provide the FBI with bulk data if they cannot or do not wish to send reports through LEEP. Those agencies that opt to send bulk data may view their own data with read-only access.

The Pilot Study

The FBI will begin the National Use-of-Force Data Collection with a six-month pilot study that will include dozens of large police and federal law enforcement agencies. During the pilot study, these agencies will provide monthly reports and case records for review by the FBI’s Use-of-Force Team to ensure the accuracy of the data. The agencies can omit private information prior to submission.

After three months of the pilot study, the FBI’s Use-of-Force Team will visit the submitting agencies to discuss any issues experienced and receive feedback. At the end of the six-month pilot study, the FBI will publish its findings, and the Use-of-Force Team will destroy the agencies’ records and retain only the data.

Going Forward

The FBI is communicating with agencies about the benefits of the National Use-of-Force Data Collection and how these agencies can participate. The FBI will continue to work with police and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure the data collection provides more meaningful data from these encounters.

The FBI encourages police and federal law enforcement agencies to take part in the National Use-of-Force Data Collection. This program will give the FBI the information it needs to provide Americans with a better understanding of police use of force. To learn how your agencies can take part in this important data collection, visit the FBI's Use-of-Force webpage.