There are probably few people on the planet who know more about police use of force data and records than I do.

Let me tell you a little bit about them and how hard they are to access.

Due to some personal experiences, I used to study how interactions with law enforcement influence citizen behavior.

I did this work while I was a graduate student at @UCSanDiego and wirh amazing colleagues at @EmoryUniversity.

Some of it was later published. 2/
Most citizens — myself included — believe CompStat means police records are fully digitized and are easy to access.

They aren’t.

Many departments use terminals from the 80s or Windows 95 3/
I naively thought I could send Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and I’d get responses in a few days.

I asked the country’s 100 largest police departments for copies of 1) felony arrest reports and 2) officer use of force reports

7 years later, and I’m still waiting 4/
My usually process was to find the chief of police’s work email and send a request for records, citing relevant state laws.

These emails triggered a 7 year saga.

I’m still slowly getting records today. 5/
The NYPD — despite requests sent via email, certified letter, asking in person, asking the chief of police in person, finding the head of records’ email and work numbers, dozens of phone calls — has never answered a request for records.

Ditto Philadelphia. Nothing. 6/
Washington’s MPD spent five years considering the request before denying it as “unduly burdensome.” 7/
San Francisco cited state law that granted broad exemptions to law enforcement agencies to release any records of any sort.

It was only after my city counsellor did me a personal favor and inquired that they released arrest reports 8/
I got data from St. Louis only because I spent three hours chatting on the phone with the head of homicide and he decided he “liked me.” 9/
Multiple police agencies in Washington built a dossier about me — including photos — that they emailed me by accident. They wanted to find a pretext to deny my request.

I still get files from Seattle and Tacoma.

Expected completion? 2100.

I worked with the ACLU of Michigan to get data from the Detroit PD.

They wanted a deposit of $1 million before they’d release a single record.

I never got anything, despite legal intervention. 11/
Ditto Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, who wanted $1 million per year of records.

Oklahoma City, after legal intervention, agreed to release a random subset of 10%.

Virginia won’t release records unless you live in the state. Same with Nashville. Memphis never answered me. 12/
Other departments put their wounds and their mistakes on their sleeve.

Denver publishes use of force reports for officer-involved shootings (OIS) on its website.

When I sent a request to Atlanta, I got a phone call within an hour asking how they could help me. 13/
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