NOTE: To see the reports that were used to generate this map please refer to the 2009 Aggregate Police Misconduct Reports in the database menu bar at top. For more maps and info about our maps, visit here.
The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP) was started in March of 2009 as a method of recording and analyzing police misconduct in the United States by utilizing 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. The NPMSRP has run in beta form since April 2009 until mid-December and this report is the culmination of this beta-phase NPMSRP effort for the year of 2009 as we head into our release-phase of the NPMSRP for year 2010.
As part of this project, reported incidents of misconduct are aggregated into a news feed on Twitter and then added into an off-line database where duplicate entries and updates are removed and remaining unique stories are categorized for statistical information which is then presented on this site.
While the use of news reports to generate statistical data may seem strange, keep in mind that police departments do not normally release any detailed information about disciplinary matters, and sometimes they don’t release anything at all. The use of court records by themselves would only garner information about misconduct cases that were successfully prosecuted and would miss confidential settlements and cases of misconduct that were not prosecuted but did result in internal disciplinary action.
It should also be noted that the use of media reports acts as a filter that limits the number of outwardly questionable allegations of misconduct, but that this may also suffer from under-reporting due to laws that limit the amount of information law enforcement agencies report to the press. Therefore, if anything, the resulting statistics we publish should be considered as a low-end estimate of the current rate of police misconduct in the United States and for any locality we cite.
Additionally, In order to allow for accurate comparisons between this project’s statistics and the US DOJ/FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics, it should be noted that this project utilizes the same methodology as the UCR by way of a hierarchical reporting system that only records the most serious allegation when more than one allegation is associated with an singular alleged incident of misconduct. It should also be noted that both the FBI/DOJ UCR and NPMSRP report on alleged instances, not just convictions.
The following report was generated from data gathered in the months of April 2009 through mid-December 2009. In the those 8.5 months there were:
- 3,445 – Unique reports of police misconduct tracked by the NPMSRP
- 4,012 – Law enforcement officers alleged to have engaged in misconduct.
- 261 – Law enforcement leaders (police chiefs or sheriffs) that were cited in those reports.
- 4,778 – Alleged victims of police misconduct cited in tracked reports
- 258 – Fatalities reported in connection with alleged instances of misconduct.
- 15.05 – Reported incidents of misconduct tracked per day on average or a report of misconduct every 96 minutes.
- $198,943,000 – Reported costs in police misconduct related civil litigation, not counting legal fees or court costs.
- 980.64 per 100,000 – Estimated average 2009 US police misconduct rate (PMR = officers implicated per 100,000 officers)
The following comparisons are made between the NPMSRP 8.5 month statistics projected out to one year and the 2008 US DOJ/FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics and the 2004 Bureau of Justice Statistics Criminal Sentencing Statistics:
- 1 out of every 266 (376.5 per 100k) police officers were accused of a violent crime. Per the UCR, 1 out of every 220 (454.5 per 100k) citizens were accused of a violent crime in 2008.
- 1 out of every 1,875 (53.3 per 100k) police officers were accused of homicide. Per the UCR, 1 out of every 18,518 (5.4 per 100k) citizens were accused of homicide in 2008 while 1 out of every 4037 (24.77 per 100k) officers died in the line of duty in 2009.
- 1 out of every 947 (105.63 per 100k) police officers were accused of sexual assault. Per the UCR, 1 out of every 3,413 (29.3 per 100k) citizens were accused of sexual assault in 2008.
- 33% of police officers charged in 2009 were ultimately convicted while 68% of citizens charged were ultimately convicted in 2004.
- 64% of police officers convicted were actually sentenced to spend time in prison in 2009 while 72% of citizens were sentenced to incarceration in 2004.
- Law enforcement officers were sentenced to an average of 14 months in prison when sentenced to incarceration in 2009 while citizens were sentenced to an average of 37 months in prison when incarcerated in 2004.
MISCONDUCT BY CATEGORY AND STATUS
When examining misconduct reports by type, non-firearm related excessive force complaints were most common at 18.1% (772) of all reports, followed by sexual misconduct complaints at 11.9% (509), and then fraud/theft reports at 8.9% (382).
When examining reports by last reported status, 45.9% had resulted in some sort of adverse outcome for the officers involved. Of those, 14% (596) were disciplined internally and 31.9% (1,363) were criminally charged. Of those who were criminally charged, 32.5% were convicted for a 10.4% total criminal conviction rate for alleged misconduct incidents.
27% of incidents resulted in a publicized lawsuit, and of those 1,156 civil actions, 34.3% resulted in a settlement or judgment in favor of the alleged victim.
NATIONAL STATISTICAL MAPS
The following statistics only count state, city, and county law enforcement agencies since current federal law enforcement employment rates were not available for calculation. The statistical rates are based on the NPMSRP statistics and employment data provided by the 2008 US DOJ/FBI UCR.
The following density map shows the number of police misconduct incidents in each state as compared to the national average number of incidents per state:
The following density map shows the Police Misconduct Rate (PMR) per 100,000 law enforcement officers for each state as compared to the NPMSRP US national average police misconduct rate for 2009, which is 980.64, and the Mean Average wich is 848.32.
State Statistical Ratings
The following rankings and charts show projected misconduct rates and indexes based on the last 8.5 month’s worth of data gathered by the NPMSRP and then sorts the resulting statistics by state.
Police Misconduct Rates per State
The following chart sorts states by their individual standard Projected Police Misconduct Rate (PPMR). The Projected PMR is calculated by averaging the number of incidents over the 8.5 month period to a monthly average, then multiplying that by 12 to estimate a projected 12 month misconduct total, then calculating the per 100,000 officer miconduct rate over that period of time based on the 2008 UCR statewide sworn law enforcement officer employment rate for that given state.
|State||Cases||Projected Misconduct rate per 100k|
Adjusted Police Misconduct Rates per State
The following chart uses the same methodology as the above PPMR chart for projecting the PMR per state but then determines the percentage variance from the average law enforcement per capita for each state and then multiplies that percentage by the PPMR for that state to adjust for high or low law enforcement per capita rates. This is an experimental method being used to help negate the statistical penality states with low populations or low officer per capita rates can face over shorter periods of statistical modeling.
|State||Cases||Projected Misconduct rate per 100k||Police per 100k pop||Adjusted Misconduct Rate per 100k|
Police Misconduct Index by State
The NPMSRP Police Misconduct Index (PMI) is a statistical representation of both the Police Misconduct Rate as well as how authorities and the judicial system effectively responds to police misconduct in each state. This chart contains the PMR for each state along with the total disciplinary actions taken (PMDPR), the criminal prosecutions pursued (PMCPR), the convictions per prosecution (PMConR1), and the convictions per misconduct incident (PMConR2), and utilizes those figures to create a Police Misconduct Index (PMI) which may help predict how likely police misconduct is to trend upwards or downwards in the future based on the assumption that a lack of effective response to misconduct may induce more misconduct to occur in the future. The lower the PMI, the less effective the response to police misconduct and, therefore, the more likely it is that police misconduct may increase within that state.
*note: West Virginia state statistics are based on an estimated law enforcement population since they do not provide statistical information to the federal government.
Local Law Enforcement Agency Ratings
All local population and law enforcement agency employment numbers are supplied by the FBI/DOJ UCR program’s 2008 report, which was the most current data available at the time this data was compiled. All statistical information is generated by utilizing the UCR numbers along with current misconduct data gathered through the NPMSRP.
Please note that, since this project utilizes data about law enforcement agencies as supplied by the FBI/DOJ Uniform Crime Reporting program, not all local law enforcement agencies are included in this report. Notably, among the missing agencies are all agencies in West Virginia and any other individual agencies which do not participate in the UCR program.
The average national police misconduct rate is estimated to be 980.64 per 100,000 police officers. In 2008 there were an estimated 712,360 state and local law enforcement officers employed in the US for an average of 1 law enforcement officer for every 234.2 people in the US.
Law Enforcement Agencies Employing 1000+ Officers
The following are the top 25 local law enforcement agencies by police misconduct rates that employ over 1000 law enforcement officers:
|1||Palm Beach County||FL||27||3043.17|
Law Enforcement Agencies Employing 500-999 Officers
The following are the top 20 local law enforcement agencies by police misconduct rates (in projected percentages) that employ 500 to 999 law enforcement officers:
|13||Prince William County||VA||7||1784.81|
Law Enforcement Agencies Employing 100-499 Officers
The following are the top 20 local law enforcement agencies by police misconduct rates (in projected percentages) that employ 100 to 499 law enforcement officers:
|13||North Richland Hills||TX||5||6184.21|
Law Enforcement Agencies Employing 50-99 Officers
The following are the top 20 local law enforcement agencies by police misconduct rates (in projected percentages) that employ 50 to 99 law enforcement officers:
|3||San Luis Obispo||CA||8||18193.55|
|12||East St. Louis||IL||5||10217.39|
*Please note that cities and counties from West Virginia and individual local agencies that chose not to participate in the FBI/DOJ UCR program are also not included in the NPMSRP localized report because we have no information on the number of officers employed at those agencies.
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 excluding murder.
Auto – Incidents involving reckless operation, failure to adhere to high-speed chase policy, or other acts of neglegence involving use of law enforcement vehicles excluding cases of impared operation. (see DUI).
Brutality – Unwarranted or excessive physical violence occurring while on-duty excluding cases of firearms or tasers.
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 Misconduct- Sexually-related incidents including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, misuse of police equipment/data to elicit sex, harassment, coercion, prostitution, sex on duty, incest, and molestation.
Theft/fraud – includes financial crimes such as robbery, theft, shoplifting, fraud, extortion, and bribery
Shooting – gun-related incidents both on and off-duty, including self-harm
Taser – Excessive force where the primary use of force involved an electrical shock device including incidents where usage was not within training or policy parameters that resulted in excessive injury or death. When the taser is also used in conjunction with excessive physical force, this will be recorded as “Brutality”.
Color of Law – incidents that involve misuse of authority such as bribery, use of position for favors, extortion by threat of arrest, or use of badge to avoid arrest.
Perjury – includes false testimony, dishonesty during investigations, falsified charging papers, and falsified warrants.
Raid – Misconduct occuring during warranted or warrantless raids or searches including wrong-address raids, mistaken raids, use of no-knock raids on warrants requiring notification, or mistreatment during execution of a raid.
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.
Lawsuit – Civil complaints filed in court, generally requires more evidence than a simple allegation, but still within the realm of allegations.
Charged – Criminal complaints filed in court, generally requires more evidence than a simple allegation, but still within the realm of allegations.
Trial – Criminal trials in court, requires enough evidence to establish probable cause, higher threshold than civil litigation or criminal charges, but still allegations.
Judgment – These are rulings that support a civil litigation complaint excepting 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.
Termination/Firing – Results of investigations that confirm misconduct severe enough to warrant termination of employment.
Conviction – 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 use of manual website searches utilizing multiple search engine platforms performed approximately once an hour from approx 8:00am PST until 2:00am PST. Reports are reviewed as located to determine if they meet any categorization listed above and are sufficient credible while not duplicative of reports already recorded by the NPMSRP. There are no sufficient key terms that work well enough to automate this data gathering tasks and the results must be vetted by human intervention as well to avoid duplicate entries.
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 publicly available news feed on Twitter called “The National Police Misconduct NewsFeed”. From there, the stories are also 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 merged into a second database that contains all reports for the given year where they are further vetted to remove any duplicate reports. These resulting reports are then sorted and analyzed. All duplicate stories, stories that are informational, stories involving policy, and legislative issues are purged from the spreadsheet or have associated officer or victim counts removed.
Any items involving a status change about a specific incident are culled so that only the latest status story remains to avoid duplicate data. Only the most serious charge in a series of charges related to a single incident of misconduct are recorded to maintain parity with the national UCR statistical analysis methodology.
After all data has been analyzed it is presented on this site by General, Geographical, Type, and Status datasets. Once per month an interactive incident map is made available on the site for all incidents recorded the previous month. A list of incidents recorded is also made publicly available for review as well. Once per quarter a statistical report is produced that contains a review of all data recorded and analyzed for the year to that date with a yearly report issued after the end of year in January of the following year.
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… which is because no such agency exists for any law enforcement agency in the US.
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 general, monthly reports do not provide as accurate a depiction of the overall extent of police misconduct in the US whereas quarterly and yearly reports are more reliable as a statistical reference, therefore we no longer produce monthly statistical reports.
Please feel free to contact the NPMSRP via email at email@example.com for any questions, comments, or recommendations.