The Police Data Initiative, Open Data and Victim Privacy
During the past few years there has been increased public interest in accessing police data and improving accountability and transparency. Many law enforcement agencies across the United States release police data online in an effort to meet increased requests for public records and as part of city-wide open government initiatives.
For the domestic violence and sexual assault community, police data could help inform the public about how law enforcement responds to and handles sexual assault and domestic violence crimes. However, the data sets themselves can also be problematic for victims of violence. For example, most of the open data sets are incident level, which means that what is published is information about a specific crime that includes, at the very least, the date, time, location (actual location or block address), incident number, and type of crime (domestic violence, assault, rape, etc.
In response to these efforts, we have developed a set of resources to support law enforcement, advocates and communities in efforts to ensure victim privacy and safety while increasing transparency through Open Data and the Police Data Initiatives.
- How Law Enforcement Agencies Releasing Open Data Can Protect Victim Privacy & Safety
This guide for law enforcement describes the need for victim privacy to be a central consideration in efforts to share data with the public, including specific recommendations. The guide was written together with the Police Foundation.
- Open Police Data Initiatives: What Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Programs Need to Know
This guide for advocates emphasizes the importance of advocates’ involvement in decisions to release police data online, and includes basic information to support advocates in joining those conversations.
- Pre-recorded Webinar Supplement
This conversation explores the recommendations of the two guides in more depth, and includes representatives of NNEDV, the Police Foundation, and privacy experts from the Vera Institute, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, and the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University.
- Berkman Klein Open Data Privacy Report
"The goal of this document is to codify responsible privacy-protective approaches and processes that could be adopted by cities and other government organizations that are publicly releasing data."