About the Project
The California Police Records Access Project is groundbreaking work that creates a comprehensive state-wide database detailing police misconduct and use-of-force incidents. Supported with an initial $6.87 million allocation from California's 2023-24 budget, this endeavor responds to legislative mandates (SB-16, SB-1421) demanding transparency in policing. Partnering organizations will centralize these records in a federated database and public facing portal, fostering transparency while ensuring individual privacy and safety. The Project's key objectives encompass providing public access to detailed data from the records, assisting police hiring, enabling evidence-based research, fortifying judicial integrity, spurring accountable journalism, aiding in exonerating the wrongfully convicted, guiding legislative decisions, and investigating systemic biases. Consulting with those affected by over-policing through a community liaison program is also a key component of the initiative.
While the Project is committed to transparency, it also prioritizes the privacy and safety of all individuals, acknowledging the ethical considerations of publishing complete records. Full access to source documents will only be granted under binding data privacy agreements.
ACLU of Southern California
Big Local News at Stanford University
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS)
With the introduction of recent legislation such as Senate Bill No. 16 (SB-16) and Senate Bill No. 1421 (SB-1421) California, law enforcement agencies are required to fulfill requests for misconduct and use-of-force records. But acquiring these records from the myriad independent agencies is neither easy nor straightforward. Data partners, who obtain these records through arduous negotiation and sometimes litigation, recognize the unique value of a federated database. This system will enable partners to share and access each other's collections, pooling their resources to create a unified body of information that's greater and more valuable than the sum of its parts. Additionally, the Project will present insights derived from these records in a public portal.
A project of this magnitude, requiring extensive document processing and data extraction, might have been unfeasible just a few years ago with the tools and resources available. However, cutting-edge solutions adopted by UC Berkeley researchers will turn what was once impossible into an attainable goal. Interdisciplinary teams comprising experts from fields like data science, journalism, activism, criminal defense, and civil rights litigation will employ advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to address the challenges posed by this groundbreaking endeavor.
The initial 3-year project includes the following:
- Gather records and establish systems to incorporate records from partners that request them, including journalists, criminal defense attorneys, and communities.
- Develop data extraction tools to allow addition of records and automated tagging to allow ready searching of records along common variables such as officer type, offense type, type of misconduct.
- Build a federated database system that will integrate with databases used by partners.
- Extract data from unstructured documents.
- Build a public facing portal.
- Develop a plan for database maintenance.
Project deliverables will enable…
The general public to:
- View detailed information on formal misconduct and use-of-force investigations of individual officers.
- Look up incidents by date and geographic location.
Police departments to make well-informed hiring choices.
Researchers and policymakers to:
- Identify patterns and trends in abusive police conduct and excessive force, both locally and statewide.
- Formulate data-driven solutions to mitigate these issues.
Legal professionals, including defenders, prosecutors, and courts, to counter false police reports and testimonies by accessing prior testimonies, disciplinary findings, and footage from body cams and surveillance.
Journalists to foster public accountability through independent, data-driven investigations.
Innocence organizations and legal defenders to challenge and overturn wrongful convictions.
Elected officials and their teams to make knowledgeable decisions on police oversight legislation.
Various stakeholders, including researchers and community groups, to explore and address deeply rooted individual and systemic racial biases.
State funds development of first-of-its-kind police misconduct database
June 28, 2023 | CDSS News
Recent Stories as a result of our CLEAN collaboration
What secret files on police officers tell us about law enforcement misconduct
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San Diego Police use force most often in neighborhoods south of Interstate 8
November 29, 2021| KPBS
One Bay Area city, 73 dog bites and the law that made them public
December 19, 2021| The Mercury News