There is no national standard for use of force data and no national requirement for local law enforcement agencies to collect and report use of force data. In some cities, we know a lot about how police interact with and treat community members. In others, we have no idea.
Without data it is difficult to know the full extent to which (or the reasons why) police are using force, which in turn prevents us from understanding the full scope of the problem, proposing effective solutions, and ultimately holding police accountable for the ways they interact with communities.
Accountable Now wants to change that by collecting, analyzing and making use of force data available to the public. We do this to measure the full scope of police use of force and to better equip advocates with the information they need to build safer communities.
Accountable Now and NORC analyzed use of force data from 14 cities. Use the data explorer tool to learn more about what they found. You can filter by city, year, type of force, race, and gender of the person that police used force against.
Police departments collect and report use of force data in different ways. Therefore, users are cautioned when comparing use of force statistics between cities. To learn more about ways in which departments differ in their capture and reporting of use of force data, see Police Use of Force is Undercounted.
You are welcome to explore the analyzed data as well as the raw data we have received through open data portals, data repositories like Muckrock, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. To download these data sets, please see the Accountable Now Progress Map.
Researchers are still learning how best to analyze and harmonize such disparate data sets. As Accountable Now and NORC continue to work with these data sets, we will continue to update the site and be transparent about what we are learning. We welcome your ideas and feedback.
Last updated: July 14, 2021
Use of Force Over Time, 2017-2019
NORC sourced incident level data from the above cities and worked
with LCCHR to harmonize these data by creating consistent categories for type of force, race, and gender. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see definitions and additional information for each of these categories.
Known offense data and the populations associated with each city were sourced from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting and used by NORC to make it easier to compare rates of uses of force across cities. Users are cautioned in drawing statistical conclusions from this data as we have observed significant and systematic missingness in publicly reported use of force data (see Missingness in Police Use of Force Data for more information).
Use of Force Data, By City
Explore the use of force data Accountable Now collected from these cities and law enforcement agencies.
For the last 25 years, the federal government has been under statutory mandate to develop a single administrative data collection documenting police use of force (UOF) in the
United States. 34 U.S.C. 12602 (Under “Setting the Standard” heading) requires the US Attorney General to “acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers” and to “publish an annual summary of the data acquired.” Despite legislation requiring the collection of UOF data and multiple efforts aimed at collecting such data, the nation still lacks a comprehensive accounting of this important data, and much of the data available is difficult to access and limited in utility.
Accountable Now makes an impact by sharing data people can understand
and use. LCCHR and NORC work together to harmonize use of force data so it is
uniform and users can make comparisons and find patterns.
Harmonizing Police Use of Force Data
Local LEAs across the United States record police use of force differently. NORC harmonizes LEA's data by combining them into a single dataset with matching definitions. With harmonized data, we can make limited comparisons between datasets from multiple cities and identify gaps or potential patterns.
As we describe in Missingness in Police Use of Force data, each LEA collects and
reports uses of force differently. This makes it incredibly difficult to create
one database containing all records of use of force. One of the main purposes
of Accountable Now is to overcome shortcomings in the data to make one
harmonized dataset containing all uses of force across the country.
Each LEA reports use of force using different database structures, so NORC deconstructed
each LEA source dataset into a consistent set of entities creating separate records for every individual, officer, and use of force that was applied as part of the use of force incidents. An incident, as illustrated here, is defined as a time and place in which one or more officers applied one or more types of force to one or more individuals. Once distilled into these distinct entities, NORC reconstructs all datasets into one consistent structure which
resembles a relational database containing all data from all LEAs.
Each LEA also reports different types of force using differing labels which can make it challenging to make comparisons across cities. So, NORC and LCCHR worked together to create a consistent standard set of types of force values and converted each of the categories reported by LEAs to that standard set of values. Given the gaps and variance in the way police departments track and report police use of force data, these standardizations aren’t perfect, but they are useful. We will continue to engage thoughtfully with the existing data and
continue to make the data available more comprehensive and useable.
NORC sourced incident level data from the above cities and worked with LCCHR to harmonize these data by creating consistent categories for type of force, race, and gender. Below are the standard categories we developed to make it easier to track trends in use of force within and across departments.
Type of Force
Definition: Police canine bite, injury, or contact
Examples of Source Values: K-9 bite, dog bite, canine inflicted injury, K-9 Apprehension/Bite, K-9 Off Lead Bite, K-9 On Lead Bite, Canine (Contact), Canine Bite
Canine Deployment Definition: Police canine present but no indication of contact or bite
Examples of Source Values: K-9 Deployment, K-9, Canine (no bite), K-9 Apprehension, K-9 Utilized, K-9 Displayed
Chemical Impact WeaponDefinition: A weapon used to strike or deploy projectiles that use chemical agents (National Institute of Justice, 2009)
Examples of Source Values: : Less-Lethal CS Grenade, Chemical Munitions, OC/CS Launcher, Chemical Weapon
Definition: “sprays or projectiles embedded with chemicals such as pepper spray”
(National Institute of Justice, 2009)Examples of Source Values: Chemical Irritant, Chemical Agent, OC Spray, CS Fogger, Less Lethal CS/OC Spray, Pepper Spray, OC Canister, Pepper Foam, Less lethal CN Gas
Classified as NOT UOFDefinition: Standard policing behaviors that are not considered Use of Force
like foot and vehicular pursuits and tactical positioning
Examples of Source Values: Additional Unit Members, Member Presence,
Movement to Avoid Attack, Tactical Positioning, Use of Force Investigation, Departmental Vehicle, foot pursuit, vehicle pursuit, verbal command, verbal, vehicle
Definition: The deployment of a less-lethal, often handheld weapon/device that discharges high-voltage electrical currents to immobilize a person
(National Institute of Justice, 2009)
Examples of Source Values: CED- DRIVE STUN, CED- PRONGS MISSED,
Taser-Probes Discharged, CEW deployment, TaserDrive Stun
ECW/CEW Point/DisplayDefinition: The displaying of a less-lethal, often handheld weapon/device that discharges high-voltage electrical currents to immobilize a person
(National Institute of Justice, 2009)
Examples of Source Values: Taser Display at Person, Pointing a CEW, Taser Display, CEW Pointed Only, Pointing a Taser
ECW/CEW - not specified
Definition: The unspecified use or display of a less-lethal, often handheld
weapon/device that discharges high-voltage electrical currents to immobilize a person (National Institute of Justice, 2009)
Examples of Source Values: Taser, CEW, Physical/Taser TASER- No, ECD
Firearm Discharge: AnimalDefinition: Discharge of a firearm at an animal
Examples of Source Values: Firearm Discharge animal, Weapon Discharge
at an animal, FD- Animal Agg., FD- Animal Suf
Firearm Discharge: PersonDefinition: Discharge of a firearm at a person
Examples of Source Values: shot gun discharge, rifle discharge, handgun
Firearm Point/DisplayDefinition: Firearm is pointed at a person or displayed but not discharged
Examples of Source Values: Pointing a firearm, Handgun displayed, Rifle
displayed, shotgun displayed, gun point display, firearm (exhibited), PFA, Firearm Pointed Only
Firearm - not specified
Definition: Firearm usage (display or discharge) is not specified
Examples of Source Values: Firearm, Handgun, Semi-Auto Pistol, Revolver,
Shotgun, Lethal-Handgun, Lethal-Rifle
HandcuffingDefinition: A type of restraint that restricts a person’s arm movement by using a metal fastening that locks around wrists (Hamden Police Department General Orders, 2015)
Examples of Source Values: Handcuffing, Handcuffs- Physical Restraints,
Resisted HC, Hand Cuffed, Physical-Handcuffing, Handcuffs
HoldsDefinition: Restricting a person’s body movements by applying significant
pressure with hands or legs (see Empty-Hand Control, National Institute of Justice, 2009)
Examples of Source Values: Pressure points, Escort Holds, Hands, Physical-Joint/Pressure, Joint Manipulation, Grabbed, Control Hold, Wristlock, Pressure Sensitive Areas, Control Against Resistance, Pain Compliance Maneuver, Soft Empty Hand- Other
Impact Projectile WeaponsDefinition: Also known as impact munitions; weapons that can be fired at a
greater distance using kinetic energy, generally to inflict pain, control crowds, and cause injury (Hubbs and Klinger, 2004)
Example of Source Values: Pepper Ball, Pepperball- OC only, Pepperball
with strikes, Impact Munition, Pepperball Launcher
Impact Weapon*Definition: Any object or device used to harm or subdue a person like a baton or flashlight (See Portland Police Use of Force Policy)
Examples of Source Values: Improvised Weapon, Impact Weapons Used,
Baton, Baton/PR-24 (Miss), Baton/PR-24 (NonStrk), Asp Baton, Baton Expandable, Impact Weapon, lethal-Knife, Banton/Koga, Baton Display
*no mention of how it is used (strike or hit)
Impact Weapon StrikeDefinition: Any weapon or non-weapon used to incapacitate or subdue a person by inflicting blunt strikes (See Portland Police Use of Force Policy)
Examples of Source Values: Impact Weapon to Head, Baton Strike/Closed
Mode, Baton Strike/Open Mode, Baton/PR-24 (Strike), Baton-Strike
Impact Weapon - not specifiedDefinition: Any object or device used to incapacitate or subdue a person
but not specified on how it was used (See Portland Police Use of Force Policy)
Examples of Source Values: Weapon display at a person, Control
Neck Restraints/HoldsDefinition: The use of any body part or object to attempt to control or disable a person by applying pressure against the person's neck, including the trachea or carotid artery, with the purpose, intent, or effect of controlling or restricting the person's movement or restricting their blood flow or breathing” (See Code of the District of Columbia)
Examples of Source Values: Force (Neck Holds), Arm Bar, Brachial Stun, CRCH- Carotid Restraint Control Hold, LVNR- Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint, CRCH- Conscious, CRCH-Unconscious
Other - Less LethalDefinition: Inclusive of other types of police interventions/procedures that are considered to be less lethal or are unclear
Examples of Source Values: FSDD- Flash sound diversionary devices, SPITNET, Combat Stance, BD- Pushed, BD- Tripped, Less Lethal Displayed
Restraint (other than handcuffs)Definition: Force techniques or mechanical devices used to subdue a person
by limiting mobility (Garner, Buchanan, Schade, & Hepburn, 1996)
*This does not include neck restraintsExamples of Source Values: Restraint Hold of Arms, Hobble, Leg Restraints, Restrain, SAFEWRAP, Restrained
Strikes/KicksDefinition: Forcible hits using arms or legs
Examples of Source Values: Weaponless (Pressure Points/Kicks/Hand), Hands, Punch, Physical- Fist Strike, Physical Knee Strike, Physical Palm Strike, Hands/Fist/Feet, Physical Strikes Made, Physical-Elbow Strike
TakedownDefinition: A maneuver used to subdue a person to the ground, often by
tackling or sweeping legs, causing the person to hit the ground (See
Portland Police Use of Force Policy)
Examples of Source Values: Forcible Takedowns, Handcuffing Takedown,
Held Suspect Down, Body Weight Leverage, Physical Takedown, Bodily Force, Physical- Weight Leverage, Physical Force/Tackle, Takedown (II and III), Takedown (IV), Take Down, Leg Sweep, Takedown (no injury), Takedown (injury), Forced to Ground, Tackle, Force (Takedown), Held Down, Lift and Dump
UOF - not specifiedDefinition: Force type not specified
Examples of Source Values: Injury to Prisoner, Noncompliant Subject/Arrestee, Physical- Other, Electronic Device Used, Less Lethal, Physical, Level 1 Use of Force, Level 2 Use of Force, Level 3 Use of Force, Physical Control, Affect Arrest, Apprehension, Physical
Vehicle as WeaponDefinition: A motor vehicle used as a weapon to subdue a person; includes use of vehicle to intentionally cause a person to crash
Examples of Source Values: Pursuit Immobilization Technique (PIT), Lethal vehicle, Vehicle as Weapon, RAM-VIS, Box-in VIS, Vehicle Containment
Race and ethnicity are not captured consistently across LEAs. While now common in federal reporting, very few LEAs capture race and ethnicity separately. Rather, LEAs report ethnicities such as Hispanic/Latino as equivalent to a race category. NORC did not attempt to impute ethnicity where not reported separately. Rather we coded ethnicity as equivalent to a race
category. Please note that current LEA data collection practices may facilitate undercounting of Latino individuals who are miscategorized as “White” or “Black” by LEAs that track race but not ethnicity.
The large majority of LEAs use male and female gender categories. Where departments report transgender or unknown gender categories, NORC maintained this detail and reported these categories in our harmonized data.