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Force Science Institute Supports National Use-of-Force Data Collection

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The Force Science Institute joins the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in their support for the FBI’s National Use-of-Force Data Collection

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director and principle researcher for the Force Science Institute, had this to say:

The foundation of any profession is the unique body of information possessed and utilized by its membership. For law enforcement, that has always included the ability to recognize and respond to the threat of force.

National news outlets and social media have driven police use-of-force into the spotlight and renewed public debate over the proper role of law enforcement.  Leaders are being flooded with recommendations for police reform from critics within and outside of the police profession.  These well-intentioned, and often quite accomplished, individuals offer support for what they describe as the latest “best practice.”

At the Force Science Institute, we have come to realize that best practices are not born overnight.  And that solutions are only as valid as the problems they are designed to solve.  Some of our earliest research into assaults on officers demonstrated this point.

After identifying and measuring types and speeds of assaults, we were able to provide accurate threat standards against which law enforcement could measure current and proposed tactics.  It became clear from the research that teaching officers to simply draw or shoot faster wouldn’t be enough to prevent an armed assault.  It was the first attempt to establish an evidence-based foundation for professional police training.

Validating problems and identifying the human factors that constrain tactical and strategic options, begins with research.  Research that first tells us whether there is a problem that needs to be addressed.  Research that accurately describes individual incidents so that collective lessons can be learned.  And research into human performance that tells us whether a proposed solution will accomplish its intended purpose—or is even humanly possible.

Without research, law enforcement can spend millions of dollars on training that hasn’t been validated—to fix problems that may not exist.

Without research, law enforcement can spend millions of dollars on training that hasn’t been validated—to fix problems that may not exist.

The statistical reports derived from the National Use-of-Force Data Collection will not be useful for assessing individual instances of police use-of-force, nor is it intended for that purpose.  But as a tool for understanding the threats facing law enforcement and police responses from a national perspective, it promises to be valuable for researchers, scholars, law enforcement, and the community. 

The Force Science Institute recommends that law enforcement leaders commit their support to the National Use-of-Force Data Collection so all start to benefit from an accurate and complete accounting of police use-of-force in America.

Resources and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the FBI and IACP websites.  

National Use of Force Data Collection Video

FBI database will collect information about incidents in which force is used by a law enforcement officer that results in the death or serious bodily injury of a person.

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