UPDATE: For more current statistics, including our 2009 Annual Report that contains all data from 2009, please visit our Police Misconduct Statistical Report menu page.
The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project utilizes news media reports of police misconduct to generate statistical information in an effort to approximate how prevalent police misconduct may be in the United States.
As part of this project, reported incidents of misconduct are aggregated into a news feed on Twitter and added into an off-line database where duplicate entries and updates are removed and remaining unique stories are categorized for statistical information in monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports here on this site. To view data from other months, refer to the Police Misconduct Statistics menu item located on the top menu bar.
*Note: This report is for incidents in October 2009 only. For more detailed aggregated statistics, please visit The NPMSRP 2009 Semi-Annual Police Misconduct Statistics Report which was released on 10/09/09.
The following report was generated from data gathered in the month of October 2009. In this month alone there were:
432 – Alleged incidents of reported police misconduct that were tracked in national news media.
13.9 – Reported incidents that were tracked per day on average.
534 – Law enforcement officers that were cited in those reports.
35 – Law enforcement leaders (police chiefs & sheriffs) that were cited in those reports.
554 – Alleged victims specifically cited in those recorded reports.
30 – Fatalities reported in connection with alleged instances of misconduct or criminal activity.
$24,658,500 – Reported costs in police misconduct related civil litigation (not counting undisclosed settlements or legal fees).
When examining misconduct reports by type, the top 3 complaints:
15.5% (67) were excessive force complaints.
14.8% (64) were sexual misconduct complaints (25 involved minors).
10.0% (43) were financial crime (theft/fraud) complaints.
When examining reports by last reported status:
22.9% resulted in punitive actions taken against the officer involved.
35.2% were prosecuted criminally.
35.5% of criminal cases resulted in convictions.
10 worst cities by total number of reports in October alone:
1. New York NY 12
2. Chicago IL 10
3. Memphis TN 4
3. San Jose CA 4
5. Atlanta GA 3
5. Baltimore MD 3
5. Broward Co FL 3
5. Dallas TX 3
5. Dolton IL 3
5. Los Angeles CA 3
5. Minneapolis MN 3
5. New Orleans 3
5. Phoenix AZ 3
5. Portland OR 3
5. St. Louis MO 3
5. Seattle WA 3
10 worst states ranked by projected officer misconduct per capita rate:
1. West Virginia (17) – 5368.42 per 100k
2. Indiana (22) – 2523.90 per 100k
3. Washington (22) – 2489.39 per 100k
4. New Hampshire (5) – 2338.27 per 100k
5. Minnesota (16) – 2165.09 per 100k
6. Oregon (10) – 2037.35 per 100k
7. New Mexico (6) – 1747.57 per 100k
8. South Dakota (2) – 1675.98 per 100k
9. Connecticut (12) – 1668.21 per 100k
10. Illinois (51) – 1643.04 per 100k
(National projected average from semi-annual report is 834.69 per 100k)
The 10 worst state rankings by sheer number:
1. Texas – 55 (1252.97 per 100k)
2. Illinois – 51 (1643.04 per 100k)
3. California – 49 (723.37 per 100k)
4. New York – 34 (665.26 per 100k)
5. Florida – 31 (836.26 per 100k)
6. Indiana – 22 (2532.90 per 100k)
7. Washington – 22 (2489.39 per 100k)
8. Louisiana – 22 (1525.48 per 100k)
9. West Virginia – 17 (5368.42 per 100k)
10. Minnesota – 16 (2165.09 per 100k)
By projecting this month’s totals out to one year, the following comparisons can be made between the reported police misconduct allegation rate and the reported general crime rate* as published by the FBI and DOJ for 2008 (*please note that both the police misconduct and general crime rate statistics are allegations, not convictions):
1 out of every 104.3 police officers in the US will be implicated in an act of misconduct or criminality in the news if October’s statistics were the average through the year of 2009.
- 1 out of every 263 police officers will be accused of a violent crime.
- 1 out of every 220 citizens will be accused of a violent crime.
- 1 out of every 1,604 police officers will be accused of murder, manslaughter, homicide, or causing a fatality unnecessarily in an act of assault or brutality.
- 1 out of every 18,518 citizens will be accused of homicide, manslaughter, murder, or other act that unnecessarily takes a life.
- 1 out of every 1,237 police officers will be accused of sexual assault.
- 1 out of every 3,413 citizens will be accused of sexual assault.
Accountability – Incidents involving evidence of police misconduct cover-ups, lack of investigations, allegations of lax disciplinary response to sustained allegations, and other activities that involve accountability policies or processes.
Animal Cruelty – Acts of violence resulting in harm to animals both on and off duty that may include unnecessary shooting incidents, inappropriate training of K9 units, or other such activities.
Assault – Unwarranted violence occurring while off-duty
Brutality – Unwarranted or excessive hysical violence occurring while on-duty
Civil Rights – Violations of general civil liberties that would be ruled unconstitutional yet not covered by other categories. For example, excessive force would be a violation of constitutionally protected rights, but is already covered in the Brutality class. However, complaints of warrantless eavesdropping or illegal disruptions of lawful protests would be deemed civil rights violations.
Sexual – Sex related incidents including rape, sexual assault, harassment, coercion, prostitution, sex on duty, incest, and molestation.
Theft – includes robbery, theft, shoplifting, fraud, extortion, and bribery
Shooting – gun-related incidents both on and off-duty, including self-harm
Color of Law – incidents that involve misuse of authority such as bribery or extortion by threat of arrest
Murder – non-negligent homicides occurring outside of the line of duty.
Perjury – includes false testimony, dishonesty during investigations, falsified charging papers, and falsified warrants.
Allegation – First stage of a misconduct complaint, can be from victim, witnesses, relatives of the victim, and other sources. Simply an allegation of misconduct.
Investigation – Second stage of a misconduct complaint, can be an internal investigation, criminal investigation, external investigation, or a DOJ/FBI civil rights investigation.
Lawsuits – Civil complaints filed in court, generally requires more evidence than a simple allegation, but still within the realm of allegations.
Charges – Criminal complaints filed in court, generally requires more evidence than a simple allegation, but still within the realm of allegations.
Trials – Criminal trials in court, requires enough evidence to establish probable cause, higher threshold than civil litigation or criminal charges, but still allegations.
Judgments – These are rulings that support a civil litigation complaint but also include settlement agreements that are typically, officially, said to not be admissions of guilt. Should be considered a confirmed case of misconduct.
Disciplinary – Results of investigations that confirm misconduct complaints but do not result in termination of employment.
Firings – Results of investigations that confirm misconduct severe enough to warrant termination of employment.
Convictions – Results of criminal trials that confirm allegations serious enough to warrant criminal charges. These include both rulings and guilty pleas.
Data is gathered from various media outlets by manual searches and review of daily news stories several times a day. There are no sufficient key terms that work well enough to automate this data gathering tasks, the results must be vetted by human intervention.
Confirmed stories about police misconduct that have been vetted to ensure that the story is about a case of misconduct or allegation of misconduct are published to a Twitter-based National Police Misconduct NewsFeed. From there, the stories are copied to a spreadsheet where they can later be sorted and analyzed.
At the first day of the month, data from the previous month is sorted and analyzed in the spreadsheet. All duplicate stories, stories that are informational, stories involving policy, and legislative issues are purged from the spreadsheet. Any items involving a status change about a specific incident are culled so that only the latest status story remains to avoid duplicate data.
After all data has been analyzed it is presented on this site by General, Geographical, Type, and Status datasets.
The data collected and presented here should only be used to provide a very basic and general view of the extent of police misconduct within the US. It is, by no means, an accurate gauge that truly represents the exact extent of police misconduct since it relies on the information voluntarily gathered and/or released to the media, not from information gathered first-hand by independent monitors who investigate complaints of misconduct since no such agency exists nationally.
This information has been gathered here because nobody else is gathering it and the national government has not gathered it for several years. Keep in mind that geographical distribution of misconduct reports can be representative of concentrations of corruption or permissive attitudes towards abusive police policies or can be indications of more open information sharing between police agencies and local media along with departmental efforts to reduce misconduct by actively engaging problematic officers. There is no real way to determine which is the case since there is no independent monitoring and investigation into allegations of police misconduct.
In generally, monthly reports do not provide as accurate a depiction of the overall extent of police misconduct in the US as do quarterly and yearly reports as there is a fair amount of fluctuation between incident types and rates month by month. Therefore, monthly reports should only be considered as the state of police misconduct in that month itself while the longer-term reports paint a more comprehensive and accurate picture of police misconduct in the US.
As always, I appreciate any recommendations, advice, requests, and general comments.