Bloomington, Ind., PD Joins White House Police Data Initiative

The department has submitted 10 sets of data, which will be updated and published every three months on the city’s website and on the federal police data website.

by Abby Tonsing, Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind. / June 8, 2016

(TNS) -- The Bloomington, Ind., Police Department has made information available to the public as part of the White House Police Data Initiative, a project stemming from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Fifty-three participating police departments across the country are tasked with providing and maintaining three sets of data to the federal program. The BPD has submitted 10 sets of data, which will be updated and published every three months on the city of Bloomington’s website and on the federal police data website.

President Barack Obama launched the Task Force on 21st Century on Policing in December 2014. The task force emphasized the need for police departments to better use data and technology to build community trust through transparency. Many of the police departments that are participating in the Police Data Initiative have not been without recent controversy, including Indianapolis, Baltimore, New York City and St. Louis.

During the social unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 after the shooting death of a black man by a white police officer, officials realized accurate data was not being maintained on police conduct and racial profiling. The Police Data Initiative started last May with a goal of helping police departments identify problems, increase internal accountability and decrease inappropriate uses of force.

The Bloomington Police Department chose to participate in the federal data program, in part, because the department leadership believes the BPD has set community policing standards at the local, state and sometimes national levels.

“We’ve really been ahead of the game. We are very proud here,” BPD Capt. Steve Kellams said Monday of the department’s approaches on modern policing and community engagement. “It’s an opportunity for setting the bar for other agencies to meet.”

The published local police data reflect information from the first quarter of 2016. The department chose the categories of information, anticipating what the public would want to search, Kellams said.

The data sets include:

• Officer-involved shootings, specifically identified cases where officers have fired a gun at a suspect. So far in 2016, none have occurred.

• Use of force by police, which distinguishes between physical contact, the use of less lethal rounds, the drawing of a service weapon, the firing of a service weapon, vehicle pursuits and foot pursuits. The mental and sobriety status of each suspect is listed, as is information about gender, age and race. The data set notes if a suspect or an officer was injured during the encounter.

• Hate crimes, or bias-based offenses and crimes. So far in 2016, three have been reported.

• Citizen complaints, includes the nature of a complaint against an officer and any disciplinary measures taken. The sex and race of the complainant and officer are noted. So far this year, three complaints have been lodged.

• Nuisance complaints, providing the dates and addresses of police calls involving alcohol, intoxicated people, disturbances, noise complaints, panhandling and vandalism.

• Traffic citations, listing the time and location of each traffic ticket. Also, the sex, age and race of both the driver and the officer writing the ticket are given.

• Bloomington Police Department calls for service.

• BPD employee demographics, which distinguishes between civilian workers and members who are sworn into the department. Each person is distinguished by job title, age, sex, race and highest level of education.

• Officer training, which outlines the types of classes and conferences police attend, including hours spent in training.

• Requests data, which lists the times police officers are requested to speak with the public at neighborhood association meetings and schools, among other community engagement events.

“Proactively providing police data is a new way of doing business for many law enforcement agencies; in Bloomington we believe it is important for the public to have more information so that they have a better understanding how our officers interact with the community we serve,” BPD Chief Mike Diekhoff stated in a news release.

Mayor John Hamilton announced local participation in the federal program back in April. “We see the BPD ongoing data release as a vital component of our overall transparency initiative. BPD is one of the first law enforcement agencies of its size to participate in the White House data initiative — something of which we should all be proud,” Hamilton stated in the news release.

Information from the Bloomington Police Department can be found on the city’s website through B-Clear, a data portal at https://data.bloomington.in.gov/group/public-safety. The same Bloomington police information, and data from the 52 other law enforcement agencies, can also be found at http://publicsafetydataportal.org/.

©2016 the Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.