By David M. Greenwald
West Sacramento, CA – The West Sacramento Police Department has had a number of high-profile police incidents in the last two decades, including the beating of the Galvan brothers, the series of rapes by an on-duty police officer, and the wrongful shooting of a man during a domestic violence call.
On Tuesday, they announced that they will become “one of the first police departments in the nation to implement a new set of national police measures developed with input from community leaders and police experts nationwide.”
The standardized measures, which will track the department’s performance and practice, will be made available to the public through Measures for Justice’s Commons dashboard, a release announced Tuesday.
According to their announcement, “Policing in the United States has a problem. Some people think it can’t be saved and needs to be abolished entirely. Others cite rising crime rates as a reason to double down on shoring up the police.”
They add, “We believe the best way to fix a system in crisis is to know as much about it as we can. Not only via focused information about one part or another, but through a rigorous, holistic overview of all the system’s moving parts.”
“Measures for Justice has been working for 3 years to develop a national set of police measures with input from community leaders and police experts,” said Amy Bach, CEO of Measures for Justice. “The only way our criminal justice system can improve is by monitoring its performance, isolating what works and what doesn’t, and developing interventions based on fact. For all this work, data are critical.”
Measures for Justice convened “a Policing Data Council and, through a partnership with the nonprofit Center for Open Data Enterprise (CODE), is convening a diverse group of community leaders, scholars, and advocates, to hone the framework for a national set of police measures that will cover all aspects of policing, including trust in the department and perceptions of legitimacy; use of force; least harm practices; accountability; officer wellness and safety; fiscal needs and responsibility; as well as recruitment and training.”
“These measures will all be based on the premise that you cannot possibly solve one problem in policing without measuring and understanding all the factors that are contributing to that problem,” continued Bach.
“We are eager to take on this work and to provide our community and ourselves much improved and actionable data,” said Rob Strange, Chief of Police, WSPD. “We are blessed by a supportive community, but we cannot take this support for granted. They will have a seat at the table to help us design a dashboard that serves our diverse community well and helps us collectively improve policing.”
He continued: “Guided by experts in data science working collaboratively with police reform advocates and policing professionals, I am confident that we will develop a platform of vital measures that illustrate the realities of public safety and the legitimacy of our police efforts. We are excited to share this important data that truly belongs to the people.”
WSPD will be one of the first police departments in the country to adopt the Commons Model, in which law enforcement and the community they serve are equal players in the creation of a dashboard designed to meet everyone’s concerns. The Commons data dashboard is unique in that it:
* is co-created with members of the community;
* includes a policy goal that is mutually agreed upon with the community;
* enables any user to easily filter data by, at a minimum, race, age, sex, etc.; and
* has data that are updated regularly.
According to their release, “This is the first time that communities will have participated in both developing national policing measures and co-creating trackable, public goals with law enforcement on a public-facing dashboard.”
“You cannot possibly solve for one problem in policing without measuring and understanding all the factors that are contributing to that problem,” Bach said.