As part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Congress obligated the Attorney General to “acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” and “publish an annual summary of the data acquired” (see 34 U.S.C. § 12602).
In 1995, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and BJS convened a Police Use of Force Workshop to discuss the associated data collection requirements of the Act. Challenges collecting valid and reliable of use of force statistics were discussed, including the specific identification and collection of excessive force data. Two data collection streams were developed from this effort: BJS and NIJ sponsored the International Association of Chiefs of Police National Use of Force Database Center (which produced the report, Police Use of Force in America, 2001) and BJS's Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS).
- Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS)
The PPCS is a national survey of the nature and characteristics of citizen contacts with law enforcement. Data are collected from a nationally representative sample of residents age 16 or older, and include information on contacts with law enforcement such as traffic stops, arrests, handcuffing, and incidents of law enforcement use of force.
Since 1995, BJS and other Department of Justice agencies have engaged in efforts to capture a broader understanding of law enforcement use of force. This includes the following projects:
From 2003 to 2012, BJS collected a national census of information on persons who died either during the process of an arrest or while in the custody of state or local law enforcement personnel. Data collected included information on the decedent's demographic characteristics, the manner and cause of death, the law enforcement agency involved with the death, and circumstances of the incident such as weapon use and alleged criminal behavior of the decedent. While the collection continued through early 2013, published data are currently available through 2009.
In 2014, Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) of 2013. The DCRA specifies that states are responsible for reporting information to the Attorney General on deaths in custody, which includes deaths during the process of arrest. This law includes potential sanctions for non-reporting states of up to 10% of their Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funds. Because BJS’s statutory authority precludes its data from being used for anything other than statistical or research purposes, the Department of Justice has determined that data-collection responsibilities for DCRA reside with the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
See Arrest-Related Deaths for more information.
The LEMAS survey collects data from a nationally representative sample of state and local law enforcement agencies on personnel, pay and benefits, budgets, record and information management systems, and community policing. Since 1987, LEMAS has asked agencies about the existence of their use of force policies as well as use of lethal and less-lethal weapons. Across select LEMAS iterations, agencies have been asked about numerous topics related to the use of force, including: investigation policies pertaining to citizen complaints of excessive force; the annual number of citizen complaints received, including the number sustained; the number of internally generated use of force incidents and reports; documentation policies regarding force incidents; and the authority and role of citizen complaint review boards.
See Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics for more information.
The SILJ provides information collected from a nationally representative sample of inmates in local jails on individual characteristics of jail inmates, including current offenses and detention status, characteristics of victims, criminal histories, family background, and gun possession and use. In 2002, inmates were asked about their experience with law enforcement at the time of their arrest and the types of force used (if any) against them.
See Survey of Inmates in Local Jails for more information.
The FBI created the National Use of Force Data Collection in 2015 to provide nationwide statistics on law enforcement use of force incidents. The data collection includes national level statistics on law enforcement use of force incidents and basic information on the circumstances, subjects, and officers involved. This data collection offers insight rather than information on specific incidents; and does not assess or report whether officers followed their department’s policy or acted lawfully.
See FBI Use of Force for more information.
The FBI's SHR are a part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. The UCR provides aggregate annual counts of the number of homicides occurring in the United States. The SHR data provide additional details about each homicide incident, including the jurisdiction, month, year, victim and offender demographic characteristics, weapon, the circumstances surrounding the incident (e.g., argument, robbery, gang-related), and the relationship between the victim and offender, if known. In addition to incident-specific information on murder and nonnegligent homicides that come to the attention of the law enforcement, SHR collect data on justifiable homicides. The FBI publishes data on justifiable homicides by a law enforcement officer each year through the annual Crime in the United States publication (CIUS).
See The Nation's Two Measures of Homicide (July 2014, NCJ 247060) for more information on the FBI Supplementary Homicide Reports.
The FBI's LEOKA collection annually gathers information on the number of law enforcement officers killed, feloniously or accidentally, and the number of officers assaulted while performing their duties. Data is collected through the UCR Program for city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal agencies. The FBI publishes LEOKA data each year through CIUS.
See FBI LEOKA for more information.
The PDI is a law enforcement community of practice that includes leading law enforcement agencies, technologists, and researchers. Numerous law enforcement agencies have submitted use-of-force incident data to the PDI. The PDI was developed by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and is maintained by additional partners, including the National Police Foundation.
See Police Data Initiative for more information.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also collects national data pertaining to lethal and nonlethal injuries inflicted through legal intervention, which are defined as injuries inflicted by the law enforcement or other law-enforcing agents, including military on duty, in the course of arresting or attempting to arrest lawbreakers, suppressing disturbances, maintaining order, and other legal actions. Lethal incidents are captured through the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), Fatal Injury Reports, and nonlethal injuries are captured through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System - All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP), a data collection co-sponsored by the CDC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The CDC has been expanding its efforts to capture more information surrounding the circumstances of violent deaths through the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). While the NVDRS has received support from all 50 states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), the most recent compiled data are not nationally representative. Data for all three databases can be accessed from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS).
During 2020, an estimated 53.8 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, or 21% of the population, had one or more contacts with police. This includes contacts initiated by the police, contacts initiated by residents, and traffic accidents. See Contacts Between Police and the Public, 2020.
In 2020, about 53.8 million persons age 16 or older had one or more contacts with police during the prior 12 months. An estimated 25.5 million experienced contact initiated by police, nearly 30.0 million initiated contact with police, and 7.8 million reported police contact as the result of a traffic accident. About 16.7 million persons reported being pulled over as the driver in a traffic stop, compared to about 16.2 million persons reporting a crime, disturbance, or suspicious activity to police. See Contacts Between Police and the Public, 2020.
In the Mortality in Correctional Institutions collection (MCI), custody refers to the physical holding of an inmate in a facility. It also includes the period during which a correctional authority maintains a chain of custody over an inmate. For instance, if a jail transports an ill inmate to a hospital for medical services and that inmate dies while in the chain of custody of the jail, that death is counted as a death in custody. A death that occurs when an inmate is not in the custody of a correctional authority is considered beyond the scope of the MCI. Out-of-scope deaths include inmates on escape status or under the supervision of community corrections, specifically inmates on probation, parole, or home-electronic monitoring.