We're often asked how we think all this data about the police will be used. The answer is that it's being used every day, but there's a steep learning curve for finding and accessing it...that's where we come in!
Across the country, communities are reimagining public safety where they live. One of the first steps of this process is understanding what kind of work we ask police to do when we call them. Who shows up to help when people contact 911 about a mental health issue? How about a found animal, or an abandoned vehicle?
Some places publish a description of these calls somewhere on the internet. Here are some we know about.
Multiple groups researching police reform asked us to help find calls for service from Oakland, CA. They're published by the city, but the "retention schedule"—how long they stay online—is only 2 days. If you want historic data, you'd need to request it from the city and hope they keep good records. Good news: as a demo, we've published a bit of scraper code which automatically collects the data in that table every day. Now, anyone in Oakland can use this public archive for as long as we can keep it online. Here's the data.
When Milwaukee PD publishes their calls for service, they're used by law enforcement, involved residents, journalists, and other people across the state; their online records expire after just 90 minutes.
Releasing a scraper is great, but our little org can't cover every data source. Fortunately, passionate transparency advocates and data users are already doing this work! Our real value lies in making connections between people working with the same data so they can share strategies, efforts, and information. What are you working on? Can we help? Reply to this email!
Our grant earlier this year put us over an important threshold: we now need a financial audit! We already had a buffer for unexpected costs, This costs about $5,000–6,000, which wasn't in the budget. We have enough on hand to cover it, but what we'd really like to do is hire a part-time accountant to get us through the audit. This costs about $650 per month, and would free up our staff to focus on mission-related work (bookkeeping is not one of our strengths).
If you make a monthly donation, you'll be covering part of this rate, or one of our other monthly expenses. If enough people chip in, we can grow our staff without relying on massive donors. This is why recurring donations are so powerful: each one, however small, permanently expands our capacity.
That’s all for now. If you have questions or comments, reply to this email or find us in Discord!