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The Politics of United States Police Statistics –

Within the APSA Public Scholarship Program, graduate college students in political science produce summaries of latest analysis within the American Political Science Overview. This piece, written by Monique Newton, covers the brand new article by Scott J. Prepare dinner, Texas A&M College, and David Fortunato, College of California, San Diego, and Copenhagen Enterprise Faculty: “The Politics of Police Information: State Legislative Capability and the Transparency of State and Substate Companies”.

In recent times the validity of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been referred to as into query. The UCR program serves as a nationwide repository for crime information collected by regulation enforcement. Every year, the UCR supplies each police company within the US with an in depth framework for reporting crime. Nevertheless, participation by regulation enforcement on this program is voluntary, with many companies selecting to not take part. Even once they do take part, proof suggests there’s typically purpose to doubt the accuracy of the offered information.

Of their current APSR article, Scott Prepare dinner and David Fortunato recommend that state authorities can play a key function in enhancing crime reporting. Prepare dinner and Fortunato argue that well-resourced legislatures can use their oversight and budgeting powers to extend the transparency of companies, together with police, on the county and municipal ranges. Merely put, native companies in these states are extra involved that any information manipulation will likely be came upon (as a result of oversight) and punished (as a result of budgeting), so they’re extra prone to report transparently on their behaviors. The authors discover robust proof in line with this, demonstrating that legislative capability will increase the validity of the info offered by state, county, and municipal companies.

Within the largest agency-level evaluation of police information to this point, Prepare dinner and Fortunato analyze administrative data of 19,095 state, county, and municipal police companies within the 50 states from 1960-2017. The primary a part of the examine focuses on whether or not the company offered any data in any respect in response to the UCR information request. They discover systematic variations in UCR participation throughout states, with companies in states with increased legislative capability considerably extra prone to take part.

“This implies a path towards increased high quality information, with state legislatures taking part in a central function in compelling police to supply extra correct accounts of their conduct.” The second a part of the examine focuses on the shortcomings of the UCR estimates of killings by police. Prepare dinner and Fortunato look at bias within the reporting of police killings by evaluating the UCR official statistics and several other crowd-sourced initiatives, together with: The Guardian’s The Counted (2015–2016), The Washington Submit’s lethal power (2015–2016), Mapping Police Violence (2013–2016), Killed by Police (2014–2016), and Deadly Encounters (2013–2016). Collectively these sources signify the very best obtainable estimates on the extent of police killings, demonstrating that official statistics fail to incorporate as many as half of the killings by police. Of their evaluation of those information, Prepare dinner and Fortunato discover hanging variations within the diploma of underreporting of police killings throughout america, once more with extra correct accounts coming from states with increased capability legislatures.

These findings recommend that official statistics on crime and policing are systematically biased and can’t be taken at face worth. Nevertheless, Prepare dinner and Fortunato discover proof in line with their argument that state legislatures can direct their energy right down to the native degree and, in so doing, enhance the transparency of state companies such because the police. This implies a path towards increased high quality information, with state legislatures taking part in a central function in compelling police to supply extra correct accounts of their conduct. Bettering these information is crucial for an correct understanding of crime within the US and its determinants. The authors spotlight the significance of understanding how the info that researchers, policymakers, and native companies use every day is produced. Not solely is that this necessary for higher understanding these outcomes, however the political course of shaping these information warrants additional clarification.


  • Monique Newton is a 4th-year Ph.D. Candidate within the Division of Political Science at Northwestern College, the place she research American Politics and Political Methodology. Her analysis pursuits lie on the intersection of city politics, race and ethnic politics, political conduct, and political psychology. A mixed-method scholar, she employs ethnographic, interview, survey, and experimental strategies to look at Black political conduct in American cities in america. Her dissertation challenge of hers explores how Black neighborhoods in america reply to the killings of Black Individuals by cops. She presently resides in Chicago, IL.
  • COOK, SCOTT J., and DAVID FORTUNATO. 2022. “The Politics of Police Information: State Legislative Capability and the Transparency of State and Substate Companies.” American Political Science Overview,
  • In regards to the APSA Public Scholarship Program.

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