Building Community Trust Through Transparency: The FBI’s National Use-of-Force Data Collection

The effectiveness of a law enforcement agency and its officers depends enormously on the relationship the agency has forged with the community it serves. Community-police relationships, like all relationships, must be based on mutual trust and respect to thrive, and seasoned law enforcement personnel know trust and respect are rooted in transparency and accountability. However, a current climate of tension between some communities and their law enforcement agencies has been driven in large part by perceptions of misuse of force by officers and a presumed lack of transparency. The specter of misuse of force by authorities can lead the public to make assumptions about officers’ actions or, at the very least, to express their concerns in pointed questions. Is force used regularly or rarely by law enforcement? Is it used unnecessarily or only with good cause? Is force applied uniformly or is it used more freely on particular segments of society? Are police use-of-force incidents isolated or widespread?