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National Data on Citizen Complaints About Police Use of Force: Data Quality Concerns and the Potential (Mis)Use of Statistical Evidence To Address Police Agency Conduct

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2015
0 pages
This study assessed the validity and reliability of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) national data on citizen complaints about police use of force that were collected in 2003 and 2007, which is a critical component of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) response to 42 USC 14142, which requires the Attorney General to “acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.”
The BJS data have the potential to help support democratic policing, provide baseline data on use of force for comparative statistical reporting and research purposes, and enable strong local checks on police abuses, provided their validity and reliability can be demonstrated. Findings from the current study indicate that the BJS data suffer from serious measurement flaws, do not provide a valid and reliable basis for comparative statistical reporting and research purposes, and should not be relied on for purposes of litigation. (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Published: July 1, 2015