Police Misconduct Databases / by Jason Tashea

A piece of mine on the creation of police misconduct databases just came out in the ABA Journal. I had fun writing this piece and getting to know some of the attorneys and advocates putting in the effort to create functional and prolific databases.

I'll let the article speak for itself, just two thoughts on this work generally.

1. Creating new tech isn't the ends, it's the means. Tech affecting the criminal justice system is only as useful as our ability to implement and use it. These databases are about better informing the user, they do to not supplant advocacy or legal work. Tech wont remove this necessary human component.

2. The police have to get with it. The two main projects in this piece have received legal battles and acrimony from local police unions and departments. For the police, this is a losing battle. Police Departments, like those involved in the White House Police Data Initiative, are opening up their data without the pressure of legal action and public protest (and the sky doesn't fall either). For example, Indianapolis' Police Department, with help from Code for America, just launched Project Comport, which is a good start. It's also a roadmap for other departments looking to create and launch a public data portal. Police departments need to be thinking about how they default to open.