(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
The Baltimore Police Department has been moving to both create and release more data of late. Starting on July 1, the department added categories such as tasers and any time an officer points a weapon at someone as a use of force, officials said.
But the department’s leaders acknowledged that they could do more.
“Unless we hear from you, we won’t get it right,” Commissioner Kevin Davis told a room full of police officers and citizens on Saturday at an event during Baltimore Innovation Week 2016 presented by 14 West at the Waverly branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
The event was designed to provide a voice for the public, but it also provided insight into the department’s new data plans. Using a tool called Comport developed by Code for America, the department is planning to release data that speak directly to interactions with police — interactions that could spark citizen complaints and officer discipline. The tool includes some visualizations.
Project Comport was previously applied at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Chief Ganesha Martin of the Department of Justice’s Compliance, Accountability and External Affairs Division learned of the work at a D.C. conference, and applied for a grant to bring the effort to Baltimore. Police indicated the data will appear at a new section of BPD’s website focused on transparency.
The datasets that eventually get released in Baltimore won’t be an exact replica of those in Indianapolis. At Saturday’s event, community members were asked what sorts of data they wanted to see released. A police officer sat at each table, and printouts of data were on hand to use.
On which kinds of use-of-force data to release, community members offered ideas like the number of complaints filed against an officer, and data around instances when a citizen reports a use of force but an officer does not.
Finding out more information about the officers involved in the complaints was also a big point. Ellen Worthing said names of officers should be included in the data. That’s been point of contention in officer-involved shootings around the country.
Martin said it’s part of a wider effort to open up more data, and called the event a “first step.”