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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

News Feed – FAQs

What is the National Police Misconduct News Feed?

The National Police Misconduct News Feed is a Twitter account that Cato uses to aggregate the police misconduct-related reports we track each day. These reports are then added into our own databases which are then used for statistical analysis as part of the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project (NPMRP).

Why doesn’t the feed follow me or answer my messages?

The feed is strictly used only for publishing police misconduct stories and this is primarily used to populate the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project database. If we used this account to have discussions, then it would make pulling the stories from the feed to the database much more difficult.

What criteria does a story have to meet to be in the feed?

There are a number of factors that go into determining what reports are published to the feed and are put into the database for statistical analysis:

  1. The story must be about an alleged or confirmed case of misconduct by a current (at the time of the incident) law enforcement officer while on duty or a criminal act by an officer while off-duty.
  2. Each story is categorized by status as Allegations, Investigations, Litigation, Charges, Trials, Disciplinary Actions, Resignations/Firings, Settlements, Judgments, Convictions, and Sentences.
  3. Stories about the same incident that do not indicate a change in status, as outlined above, are excluded as duplicate unless they concern additional allegations or findings that were not included in the original report and would, therefore, qualify as an additional incident/allegation/finding beyond the original report.
  4. There is a threshold that limits stories to incidents that would be considered harmful to the general public or indicative of problematic tendencies on the part of law enforcement officers, therefore stories about minor interdepartmental policy infractions are excluded.

How is this information gathered?

Gathering news stories about police misconduct is a manual process that has to be performed on a frequent basis via targeted keyword searches that often yield unrelated results. The positive results are then compared to a database of previous stories published on the feed to ensure duplicate stories are not republished but that significant updates are posted.

Why is this so labor intensive?

This process is done by hand and involves searches on a number of keywords and phrases in order to avoid missing stories that are dropped from search engine results from growing stale or from becoming inaccessible through pay-per-view archiving done by many media outlets.

Why aren’t some stories published on the feed as soon as they go public?

It is a manual process, and we only do searches and publish stories to the feed when we have the time. Cato staff sometimes take sick days and vacation days.

Why use Twitter to publish the news feed?

We have found that publishing the description and link to each story is far more efficient through the use of Twitter and Twitterbar than if we were to copy and paste information to a different window. By using those tools, we only have to utilize a single window with fewer clicks, which is important due to the limited time we have available to do this each day.

What should I do if I think you missed a story?

First, make sure you understand the criteria we use to determine which stories to publish. If the story meets that criteria then let us know via the contact form.

Why bother with doing all this?

It is the only comprehensive way available to gather data on how prevalent police misconduct might be, what types of police misconduct are most prevalent, and to publish any semi-meaningful statistical information about police misconduct since nobody else, not even the government, is doing so currently.

How does the information get from Twitter to a statistical report?

On a regular basis, as time permits, we copy the feed results into a database. Within that database, we do further checking to ensure duplicate entries are removed. After that, we categorize the data and perform further analysis to get other statistics, including the cost from lawsuits, cost in lives, the number of officers involved in each alleged or confirmed case of misconduct, and any other data that might be useful. Those results are published in a monthly report.

Are there any plans to improve the process?

Currently we are planning on expanding the amount of information we pull from these stories and developing more intuitive analysis methods that will also track each story from allegation to findings and place those results in a geographical reference in order to help determine which regions are more, or less, tolerant towards police misconduct. We also plan on trying to do a more sophisticated analysis on each story in order to try and determine the most prevalent triggers for misconduct and how often officers self-report incidents of misconduct to determine how prevalent the culture of “the blue wall of silence” really is.

What is the news feed good for?

The debate over police misconduct has always suffered from a lack of publicly available information. This is an effort to address that problem by giving people the tools they need to analyze the scope of police misconduct in the U.S.

We hope this project will yield useful data, statistics, and trending information to help decisionmakers, activists, and legislators make better choices and arguments about police misconduct instead of just accepting the word of the police officers themselves as the only authoritative source of information and opinion about this problem.

This project is not helpful; why don’t you close it down?

The Internet is a big place — you should look for other web sites to visit. If you have suggestions for ways in which this site can be improved, send a message using the contact form.

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