Bloomington joins Indianapolis in releasing raw police data to the public

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Some police departments across the country, including Bloomington and Indianapolis, are releasing raw data in an effort to be more transparent.

“This is a brand new thing,” Bloomington Police Capt. Steve Kellams said.

Bloomington police just posted 10 raw data sets online, through a portal the city has started called B-Clear.

The data will be released quarterly. The first set is from January to March of this year and includes everything from department demographics, to citations, to citizen complaints. It even covers all 12,000 calls for service officers went on in that time period.

“We’re releasing raw data, this is not analyzed data, it’s not data that we’re putting through any filters. We’re not putting any spin on this,” Kellams said.

We did a cursory search through and found interesting items. For one, Bloomington’s ranking officers are all white, with only one female. We also found that of three citizen complaints, one did result in an officer resigning for improper conduct.

The data also hits on hot button issues that speak to trust between citizens and officers. Those include officer-involved shootings and use of force. There’s a data set for hate crimes, as well.

Mayor John Hamilton started the B-clear portal when he took office this year, as a way to increase transparency in all areas. He and Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff worked together to sign onto the federal initiative.

“We’ve certainly seen around the country where transparency and openness can be very difficult issues, challenging to communities,” Hamilton said. “It’s all about building trust.”

You can look through all of Bloomington’s data at the link here. Police recommend downloading each data set, so you can easily look at it through an Excel spreadsheet.

Indianapolis started releasing portions of its data, covering citizen complaints, use of force, and officer-involved shootings, last year. That data is updated monthly and can be found at the link here.

Lori White, who runs Indy’s Citizen Police Complaints Office and oversees the data release, said it could prove especially valuable because it not only builds trust, but citizens can analyze the data themselves, potentially pointing out things the department has not noticed.

“They can help us see if there’s patterns that we’re missing, (that) the department might need to know about to do their job better. So it’s a good collaboration between public and private,” White said.

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