Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, announced a piece of legislation Tuesday to modernize California’s collection and publication of criminal justice data.
The OpenJustice Data Act builds on Harris’s historic open data initiative, OpenJustice, to improve accountability and transparency in California’s criminal justice system.
“Data and technology have the power to dramatically increase transparency and accountability in our criminal justice system,” said Harris. “This legislation will bring criminal justice data reporting into the 21st Century. I thank Assemblymember Irwin for standing with me to support the adoption of technology by law enforcement.”
Assembly Bill 2524 will convert Crime in California and other annual reports published by the California Department of Justice into digital data sets that will be published on the Attorney General’s OpenJustice Web portal. These reports provide statistical summaries including numbers of arrests, complaints against peace officers, hate crime offenses, and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted. The OpenJustice Web portal will transform the way this information is presented to the public with interactive, accessible visualization tools, while making raw data available for public interest researchers.
“Right now we are sitting on mountains of valuable criminal justice data that local law enforcement work hard to provide in the public interest. We need to make sure that this information is available to the public and that we are using it effectively. AB 2524 is a common-sense measure that will help bring California into the 21st century,” said Irwin.
Additionally, AB 2524 will bring the state’s data collection into the 21st century by requiring local law enforcement agencies to submit all currently required statistical reports digitally. Despite the fact that electronic reporting provides for more accurate and efficient data submission, approximately 60% of local law enforcement agencies still submit required data to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) on paper. The OpenJustice Data Act will direct all agencies to transition to digital reporting, which will improve the quality and completeness of data, allow for more frequent updates to data contained within the OpenJustice Web portal, and ensure a much more efficient use of taxpayer resources in the long-term.
“I look forward to working with Attorney General Harris and Assemblymember Irwin to further advance our commonly shared goal of strengthening the relationships between law enforcement and the communities in which we live and serve. Law enforcement leaders across California stand ready to ensure that the modernization of data reporting is feasible for even the smallest of police departments. The alchemizing of this data will serve to better inform Californians about the crime our officers encounter every day and the subsequent actions taken,” said Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams.
Attorney General Harris first launched the OpenJustice initiative in 2015 as a mechanism for improving community trust in law enforcement, enhancing government accountability and informing public policy.
Last month, the Attorney General announced the release of OpenJustice 1.1, which enriched the Web portal’s initial data sets with city, county, and state level context including population and demographic information, unemployment rates, poverty rates, and educational attainment levels. In addition to providing greater transparency, this information enables policymakers to craft informed, data-driven public policy.
Harris has announced that the Department of Justice will augment the OpenJustice Web portal with new criminal justice datasets created through recent legislation, including reports on racial and identity profiling (AB 953, Weber) and officer and civilian-involved uses of force (AB 71, Rodriguez).
Attorney General Harris has also taken several steps to strengthen the trust between law enforcement and California communities. She directed a 90-day Review of her Division of Law Enforcement’s policies on use of force and implicit bias, convened the state’s law enforcement leaders to share best practices through her 21st Century Policing Working Group, created the first POST-certified course on Procedural Justice and Implicit Bias in the U.S., and developed a pilot for body-worn cameras for DOJ Special Agents.