U.S. Attorney General To Kick Off Policing Task Force During Cincinnati Visit

May 18, 2015

Attorney General Lynch addresses family, close friends and DOJ staff after being sworn in by Vice President Biden.
Credit Lonnie Tague / Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is expected in Cincinnati Tuesday. She's slated to meet with Cincinnati Police and others who were involved with the city's collaborative policing agreement, according to attorney Al Gerhardstein.

The deal worked out after the 2001 riots has been widely credited with improving police-community relations in Cincinnati and is being held up as a model following turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and other cities.

According to a release from the City of Cincinnati, Lynch is slated to hold a roundtable discussion at 2 p.m. at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. She's also expected to tour Chase Elementary school Tuesday morning.

Cincinnati is one of 21 cities taking part in President Obama's Police Data Initiative, part of the president's "Task Force on 21st Century Policing." Participating cities will release policing data, both to the public and researchers working on early warning systems and other accountability measures.

A Freedom Center spokesperson says the meeting will be at the museum Tuesday afternoon. Details are still being worked out.

Attorney Al Gerhardstein, who participated in crafting the collaborative agreement, says Lorretta Lynch will meet with the Cincinnati police chief to talk about that process. Lynch was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the nation's 83rd attorney general last month; and is the first African-American woman to hold that position.

Police Data Initiative

The initiative has two focus areas, laid out below by the White House.

1. Use open data to build transparency and increase community trust.

  • All 21 police departments have committed to release a combined total of 101 data sets that have not been released to the public. The types of data include uses of force, police pedestrian and vehicle stops, officer involved shootings and more, helping the communities gain visibility into key information on police/citizen encounters.
    • Code for America and others are helping on this. For information on how Police Departments can jumpstart their open police data efforts, click here.
  • To make police open data easy to find and use, the Police Foundation and ESRI are building a public safety open data portal to serve, in part, as a central clearinghouse option for police open data, making it easily accessible to law enforcement agencies, community groups and researchers.
  • Code for America and CI Technologies will work together to build an open source software tool to make it easier for the 500+ U.S. law enforcement agencies using IA Pro police integrity software to extract and open up data.
  • To make it easier for agencies to share data with the public about policing, Socrata will provide technical assistance to cities and agencies who are working toward increased transparency.
  • To help this newly released data come alive for communities through mapping, visualizations and other tools, city leaders, non-profit organizations, and private sector partners will host open data hackathons in cities around the country. In New Orleans, Operation Spark, a non-profit organization that teaches at-risk New Orleans youth software development skills, will work with data opened by the New Orleans Police Department at a weeklong code academy.
  • Presidential Innovation Fellows working with the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Chief Data Scientist will work collaboratively with key stakeholders, such as Code for America and the Sunlight Foundation, to develop and release an Open Data Playbook for police departments that they can use as a reference for open data best practices and case studies. 
  • The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is working with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to use open data to provide a full picture of key policing activities, including stops, searches and use-of-force trends, information and demographics on neighborhoods patrolled, and more. This partnership will build on a website and tools already developed by the Southern Coalition for Justice which provide visualization and search functions to make this data easily accessible and understandable.
  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Foundation, and Code for America have committed to helping grow a community of practice for law enforcement agencies and technologists around open data and transparency in police community interactions.

2. Internal accountability and effective data analysis.

  • While many police departments have systems in place, often called “early warning systems,” to identify officers who may be having challenges in their interactions with the public and link them with training and other assistance, there has been little to no research to determine which indicators are most closely linked to bad outcomes. To tackle this issue, twelve police departments committed to sharing data on police/citizen encounters with data scientists for in-depth data analysis, strengthening the ability of police to intervene early and effectively: Austin, TX; Camden, NJ; Charlotte, NC; Dallas, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Knoxville, TN; LA City; LA County; Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA; and Richmond, CA.
  • The University of Chicago will provide a team of five data science fellows from the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good program to work with 3-4 police departments over a 14 week engagement, starting in late May, to begin to prototype data analysis tools that will help police departments identify the behaviors most indicative of later problems.
  • The Oakland Police Department, which has deployed body worn cameras for over four years, has partnered with a team of researchers at Stanford University to build automated tools to comb through the audio to surface police/citizen encounters that either went particularly poorly or went particularly well. This will allow the Oakland PD to quickly identify problems and also to lift up real world examples of the great police work that happens every day. The Stanford team is also researching ways that body worn camera data can be used to track and inform the effectiveness of training in the field, using the camera data to see whether the classroom experience translated effectively to encounters on the street.
  • The Department of Justice and the Police Data Initiative stakeholders will work with universities and other research partners to identify opportunities to coordinate body worn camera research to help avoid unintended overlap, maximize the coverage of research topics and increase cross-learning. Additionally, the Police Data Initiative will work with cutting-edge leaders in advanced video analysis to identify opportunities to help police departments maximize the value of the thousands of hours of video body worn cameras will produce.

Police departments participating in the White House Police Data Initiative:

Credit www.whitehouse.gov