No one disputes the idea that police misconduct is wrong, but reasonable people do disagree about the scope of the problem and how it ought to be addressed. The purpose of this project is to gather reports of credible allegations of police misconduct so policymakers (and others) can make informed assessments of the nature and circumstances of police misconduct, and consider proposals that can minimize wrongdoing. Individuals who are victimized by police misconduct should expect a review process that will seriously investigate complaints. Police officers accused of wrongdoing should expect to be treated fairly and with due process. Our objective is to identify policies that consistently uphold high standards of ethics, honesty, and professionalism from police officers and critique the policies that do not. We believe good policy analysis can improve governmental decisionmaking.
The National Police Misconduct Reporting Project (NPMRP) was first established in 2009 by David Packman, a private researcher. In April 2012, Mr. Packman announced that he could no longer devote the necessary time to maintain his project and asked for a person or organization to assume responsibility for the reporting project. The Cato Institute expressed an interest, and Mr. Packman subsequently agreed to transfer his ownership interest to Cato with no qualifications whatsoever.
In May 2012, Cato relaunched the reporting project at www.policemisconduct.net.
Our reporting analyzes media reports each day to locate news stories of police misconduct, records those reports in a database, and then transmits details about each report in a publicly available social media news feed on Twitter.
At the end of each quarter the database is scanned to ensure all recorded reports are not duplicates of reports already gathered and meet all criteria for valid police misconduct reports. Those reports are then categorized and analyzed to produce quarterly and annual police misconduct statistical reports that are then posted on this site along with a copy of the database entries for that report to ensure that the data used for the reports is transparent and publicly reviewable.
At the end of each year a special aggregate statistical report is generated and posted to the site to examine long-term statistical information gathered by the NPMRP with additional detailed analysis including localized misconduct ranking information and statistical trending data. The annual aggregate reports include detailed per-capita misconduct rates and comparisons between law enforcement agencies for analysis as well.