National Police Misconduct Database

The CJR Solution

Thank you for providing the content of the next brief. Here’s a summary of the issue, key statistics and facts, and recommendations:Issue:
Despite the existence of over 13,000 local police departments and nearly 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the U.S., there is no formal national database that records officer misconduct and resulting resignations or terminations due to misconduct. This lack of a comprehensive tracking system allows officers guilty of serious misconduct to find employment at different agencies after being fired or resigning. The absence of a national police misconduct database hinders the ability to identify and prevent the continued employment of “bad apples” within law enforcement.Key Statistics and Facts:

  • Since 2006, approximately 24% of fired police officers from some of the largest police departments have been reinstated, with some departments being required to rehire the officers they fired.

  • Prior to the murder of George Floyd, convicted Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was involved in 18 investigations by the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit but was only disciplined in two incidents.

  • A study examining police misconduct in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia found that although Black officers had fewer accusations of wrongdoing than White officers, they were more likely to receive disciplinary action.

  • Michigan has started gathering and reporting information about police use of force, asserting that it has helped build trust between the police and the community.Recommendations:

The Center for Justice Research recommends the following actions for state, local, and federal lawmakers, mayors, law enforcement, and other key stakeholders:1. Develop a national police misconduct database detailing specific citizens’ complaints, disciplinary actions taken, the nature and extent of officer complaints, misconduct violations, and subsequent officer termination and decertification.

  1. Implement mandatory reporting of misconduct data for measuring and detecting local, regional, and national patterns.

  2. Establish mandatory decertification and termination thresholds for severe police misconduct and behavior that threatens the safety of citizens.