Using Open Data Initiatives to Enhance Police-Community Relations




York, Jeff

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



It comes as no surprise that there are sections of the population who do not trust the police in their community. This has played out on a large scale recently over high profile use of force incidents that resulted in the deaths of civilians during interactions with police officers. Communities that felt the most distrust of police experienced civil unrest over these incidents and perpetuated the cycle as police had to step in and maintain order. What those sections of the community want is a means to have their voices heard and an open and honest line of communication with police. One suggested means of achieving that end is open data initiatives. Open data initiatives will make police policy, data on use of force incidents, and arrest and search data readily available to the public. Police agencies should participate in open data initiatives, as this is a first step to start to build trust within and positively impact relations between a department and their community. Building that trust and opening those lines of communication will allow a police agency to be more effective and enhance the safety of both the officers and the citizens. The recent push for open data initiatives has also come with resources agencies can use to get this process started. These range from funding to easy access to established data portals. Given the benefits that are possible and the resources that are available to make the process easier, police agencies must take advantage of the opportunity to become transparent organizations that meet the needs of all sections of their communities.


Police--Community Relations, Police and Mass Media, Social Media