KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A new public assessment of policing in the United States ranked the Kansas City, Missouri Department of Police at 496th place out of 500 state-wide departments, but only a few agencies responded to requests for data for Police scorecardwhile others only provided part of the information requested, resulting in incomplete data that cannot be easily compared.
The Police Scorecard project is the first nationwide public evaluation of police work in the country. It calculates the level of police accountability, violence, racial bias and other police outcomes for over 16,000 law enforcement agencies, according to his website.
Law enforcement then scores from zero to 100% based on the number of low-level arrests by a department, the frequency with which excessive force has been used, the frequency with which officers are held accountable for wrongdoing, diversity and racial differences and the amount of funding received.
Cities with higher scores spend less on police, use less violence, hold officials accountable, and make fewer arrests for minor crimes, and vice versa.
“The Police Scorecard is an attempt to put all of the data we can reasonably collect about the country’s police forces in one place and then use it to evaluate things that communities, lawmakers and the media have requested,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, founder of the Police Scorecard Project, told FOX4.
“I think ultimately the departments should be pushed to make this data public.”
How did local agencies fare?
According to the Police Scorecard website, only four police stations in the greater Kansas City area provided enough data for analysis: KCPD, Kansas City, Kansas Police Department [KCKPD], Independence Police Department and the Lee’s Summit Police Department.
Independence achieved 36% and was ranked 457th out of 500. Lee’s Summit had the best score and the best rank of any Metro agency with 53%, which is 80th nationwide.
Nationwide in Kansas, KCKPD was one of only two who, along with the Wichita police, provided enough information. KCKPD reached 37%, ranking 447th nationwide. Wichita scored 42%, ranking 346th.
In Missouri, Springfield and St. Louis City and Counties departments had enough data to analyze. Springfield scored 41%, ranking 375th. St. Louis was just ahead of Kansas City, scoring 29%, making the department 495th nationwide. St. Louis County was rated much higher at 52%, good for 99th place.
While each state’s agencies are scattered across their respective landscapes, an overwhelming majority are grayed out, meaning that those agencies didn’t provide enough data for the project.
“In the course of the scorecard we made incomplete data for agencies, their score is gray,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, founder of the Police Scorecard project, to FOX4.
âYou can compare them based on the data available, but we wanted to make it clear that they [a police department] didn’t provide as much data as other agencies, so take that with caution. “
All other law enforcement agencies in the Kansas City area either did not respond or provided only part of the information requested.
Captain Leslie Foreman, Public Information Officer at KCPD, said the project lacks credibility.
“Our data is actually complete and accurate … the problem comes with the comparison and the rankings,” she told FOX4 in an email. “The data from many other departments is incomplete or verified, so it is not an apple-to-apples comparison.”
She said it was unfair to compare police department data if the project was incomplete.
“Reviewing this data with our partners who professionally research and study the criminal justice field leaves many questions unanswered about the completeness, validity, and methods of information gathering, comparison and analysis,” said Foreman.
“These questions are not clearly answered or explained on the website.”
Singyangwe said soliciting and compiling police records is challenging because few departments are transparent and willing to release records.
“In general, the things we really had to fight to gain access to were police records, especially non-fatal violence,” Singyangwe said.
âThere are only 12 states that are completely open about public records and police records. In many other states it is much more difficult. In the end, you have to negotiate and fight back against the police to get the amount of information you need but not the amount you want. “
Many police authorities still have to provide extensive data to the project, which leads to incomplete data tracking and makes analysis almost impossible. Singyangwe said it would not be a problem if the law enforcement agencies were required to publish police records.
Singyangwe said, for example, that a department may forward the total number of civil complaints filed against law enforcement officers but will not release information on how many of those complaints are being maintained. He said this could happen if a department’s internal affairs files were protected in a particular state.
“The other part of it is that the police, especially smaller departments, will say that they have to go through all this paperwork manually to actually find out how many times officers have used a taser in the past year, for example,” he says. “High fees are charged for this.”
Singyangwe said some departments have tried to charge up to $ 3,000 for police records, something he says is just not worth the cost.
Most, if not all, states allow public authorities to charge a âreasonableâ fee to work and process a file request, but they should also provide a detailed invoice that fully explains the fees. If an agency does not enclose an invoice, it should send it on request.
Fee exemptions can easily be attached to file requests that justify why a file should be released free of charge. However, fee waivers must first be accepted or rejected by the authority receiving the application, which means that some recordings can still be expensive even with a fee waiver.
âGetting the data is critical to understanding first what the problems are, where the problems are most acute, and then, more importantly, what the solutions might be that will actually work,â he said. “I think the data can provide a roadmap for how you can make real change, measurable change in your community to improve public safety, end police violence and increase police accountability.”
Push for a common database
The police scorecard data shows that the KCPD achieved an average total score of 28% in four sections: Police Financing, Police Violence, Police Accountability and Law Enforcement Practice. This is the lowest score of any Police Department in the Kansas City area based on data currently available on the Police Scorecard.
“If people are killed by the police, it will most likely be reported in the media and tracked,” Singyangwe said. âBut apart from fatal violence, it was much more difficult to fully prosecute non-fatal cases unless you get the data directly from the police. You can tell that many departments do not follow up as comprehensively internally anyway. “
KCPD has provided the Police Scorecard Project with more information and data than any other Kansas City police agency. Of four categories analyzed, three contained complete data.
Both the Wichita Police Department and Lee’s Summit Police Department provided only adequate data on low-level arrests, murders, and racial differences in drug arrests. However, the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department did not release complete data for any of the four categories analyzed.
The Independence Police Department provided full data on police violence and how they were prosecuted. Information on low-level arrests, homicides, racial differences in drug arrests, the level of violence used in an arrest, the number of unarmed victims involved in fatal offenses and racial differences in fatal offenses were fully submitted to the Police Scorecard project .
“This is a participatory project,” said Singyangwe. âThis project only works if we can see the data. We will write down which cities are improving and which are not and how. “
Singyangwe said states should require law enforcement agencies to submit all data to a central database. He said this is the only way to improve community engagement between law enforcement and the public, as well as policing, across America.
He also said that citizens can encourage non-compliant police departments to submit data to the Police Scorecard project by relaying the project data Data transfer form on the Chief of Police, the Mayor and the City Councilors.
âThis project can help us create a baseline for comparing cities [policing practices] with each other, but it will never be able to collect as much data as if there were a nationwide mandate that all departments report the data published online to a common database, âhe said.
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