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Back to Archives | Back to May 2012 Contents 

Officer Safety Corner: National Data Collection: A Call to Action

By Scott Brien, Project Manager, National Center for the Prevention of Violence Against the Police, IACP; and Stephen Fender, Project Coordinator, National Center for the Prevention of Violence Against the Police, IACP


Data Providers Examined
  • BJA Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program (PSOB)
  • CDC National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Program (CFOI)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation: Law Enforcement Officers Killed & Assaulted (LEOKA)
  • National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund (NLEOMF)
  • IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club
  • National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
  • BJS: Police Public Contact Survey (PPCS)
  • BJS: Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD)
  • ATF: e-Trace
  • DOT: National Highway Transportation Safety Agency: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)

major problem facing law enforcement today in relation to preventing violence against the police is limited sharing of high-quality data about the incidents. The IACP’s National Center for the Prevention of Violence Against the Police (National Center) argues that to optimally prevent injuries and line of duty deaths before they occur, analysis needs to take place regarding each previous incident to identify trends and generate lessons learned. For this to occur, information about each incident must be shared with research entities such as the National Center. After an extensive review of the currently available data regarding line of duty deaths and serious injuries, the National Center has determined a number of key findings:

  • The best quality data currently available exist in police reports of the incidents.
  • The majority of data that are nationally available other than police reports does not provide the level of context that is needed to adequately analyze and learn from incidents.
  • To best analyze each incident, there needs to be quality narrative analysis of the reports created at all levels of the investigation; time, date, age, and so forth tell only a small part of the story.
  • Existing data in police reports are not adequately shared, and agencies vary greatly in their willingness to release information.
  • Better collaboration is needed for agencies to best benefit from the data collected from these incidents.
  • The variation in software used by collection agencies makes combining data sets complex.
  • The limitation of data sharing leads to agencies not being able to adequately learn from incidents, and those that do make this effort are not sharing their experiences nationally.


Recommendations from the IACP

Improve information sharing efforts. To do this, there needs to be an effort to encourage law enforcement to share information and put agreements in place to ensure data sharing by all agencies across local, state, tribal, and federal jurisdictions.

Cultivate relationships with research entities. From the IACP to local universities, such collaborations will benefit not only individual agencies but also the field at large.

Encourage a culture of learning. Through training and information exchange across law enforcement and research institutions, lessons learned can be shared beyond the walls of a given agency.

Report assaults. Assaults on officers are underreported, and, to better understand the current climate and get a clearer picture, agencies must report all assaults to FBI LEOKA.

Aid in the creation of a national database. The creation of a comprehensive database that brings together all line of duty deaths and serious injuries will facilitate analysis and the ability to better understand the incidents and identify trends.


What the IACP Is Doing to Help

Analyzes data. IACP staff use information from the field to identify trends.

Acts as a clearinghouse. Agencies provide data on injuries and line of duty deaths to the IACP through mutual agreements.

Creates a data source engine. Data across multiple sources need to be combined so events can be fully analyzed. The IACP can facilitate the creation of a data source engine.

Ensures security of information. Unnecessary restrictions on data decrease the value of analysis efforts. The IACP staff will ensure the security of all data.

Disseminates lessons learned. Injuries from critical incidents should be seen as opportunities to learn and prevent them from occurring in the future. The IACP plays an integral role in ensuring this information reaches the field.


How to Become Involved

The IACP’s National Center is seeking line of duty death and serious injury data. If your agency is willing to share data on these incidents, please email NCPVAP@theiacp.org or visit http://www.theiacp.org/NCPVAP for more information. ■



This project is supported by Grant No. 2010-DB-BX-K085 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The BJA is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the SMART Office, and the Office for Victims of Crime. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the authors and do not represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.


If you are interested in submitting a column for Officer Safety Corner, please visit http://www.theiacp.org/SafeShield for more information.

Please cite as:

Scott Brien and Stephen Fender, "National Data Collection: A Call to Action," Officer Safety Corner, The Police Chief 79 (May2012): 14.

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From The Police Chief, vol. LXXIX, no. 5, May 2012. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.








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