FAQ

About the Initiative:

What is the Police Data Initiative (PDI)?

The Police Data Initiative is a law enforcement community of practice that includes leading law enforcement agencies, technologists, and researchers committed to engaging their communities in a partnership to improve public safety that is built on a foundation of trust, accountability and innovation. The PDI represents the great work and leadership of more than 130 law enforcement agencies who have released more than 200 datasets to date, and originated as a result of several recommendations in the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that focused on technology and transparency.

Is the Police Data Initiative website available to anyone?

Yes, the site is designed to serve as a virtual resource for law enforcement agencies that are part of the Police Data Initiative but can be used by anyone or any agency producing, releasing or consuming open data.

What agencies and organizations are involved in the PDI?

At the national level, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) serves as the primary federal agency providing support to the PDI, however the COPS Office nor any federal agency collects any data released by the agencies participating. See the FAQs under “Data” for more information. This website is operated by The Police Foundation, a national non-profit organization, in partnership with many other organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

About the Participating Agencies:

How Can I Find Out Which Agencies Are Participating?

This website provides an index of all agencies that have committed to participating in the PDI. Visitors can see a map of participating agencies here.

What’s Required for an Agency to Join the Initiative?

There are three easy steps to join the initiative and any agency providing recognized public safety services is eligible to join. More information on how to join can be found here.

Can any Agency Participate?

Yes, participation is open to any agency that provides law enforcement services within their community. More information on how to join can be found here.

About the Data:

What Data is Currently Being Released by Participating Agencies?

More than 200 datasets are currently being made available by participating agencies. The list of datasets is constantly growing and evolving. This website maintains a listing of datasets that can be viewed, sorted, and searched under the Data and Agencies tab of this site.

Who is Collecting the Data Released by the Agencies?

The agencies participating in this community of practice have chosen to release their data to the public, therefore anyone can collect the data. However, it is important to note that this initiative, the DOJ COPS Office, nor The Police Foundation are collecting this data at the national level. This website only provides an index to these agency’s webpages where the data can be downloaded by the public.

What Data is Required?

No specific data is required and participating agencies are able to determine what data about crime and/or policing they prefer to release. We encourage those determinations to be made in light of local restrictions, privacy implications, data availability and cost, and community demand for such data.

What is Open Data and How is it Different from Any Other Data?

Open data is data that can be downloaded and analyzed by another person or organization. For this to be possible, the data must exist in a format that allows analysis, meaning that it is not summary but incident level and in a file format that allows the data to be accessed. Formats such as PDF and HTML don’t typically allow the data to be downloaded and analyzed and therefore data stored in these file formats generally don’t meet the definition of open.