Law Enforcement Public Contact Data Collection
For nearly a century, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program has collected crime data from law enforcement agencies across the country. This program manages several data collection systems, and each captures different aspects of crime and incidents involving law enforcement officers, such as hate crimes, officer suicides, and others.
The UCR Program uses submitted data to provide law enforcement and the public with reliable statistics, which can be used to assist in policy decision-making, resource allocation, and strategic planning. This information is valuable for telling the story of what happens in crimes and law enforcement incidents.
To gain better insight into UCR data, particularly within the National Use-of-Force and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Data Collections, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Advisory Policy Board recommended the creation of the Law Enforcement Public Contact (LEPC) Data Collection to gather an annual count of law enforcement’s interactions with the public. The recommendation was enacted in 2017, which established a national, standardized measure of these interactions.
Following the transition from the Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and the successful launches of the National Use-of-Force and Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collections, the UCR Program is implementing the LEPC Data Collection.
Contributing data is free and easy for agencies. The LEPC Data Collection only focuses on a count of public interactions. Many agencies can track their number of public contacts by using their current recordkeeping systems.
What Types of Data Will Be Collected?
The LEPC Data Collection gathers data on law enforcement public contacts, defined as incidents or occurrences where an officer is called to respond to a scene by a citizen(s) or initiates an activity that results in contact with a citizen(s). This collection includes three categories of contact.
- Citizen calls for service
- Unit/officer-initiated contacts
- Court/bailiff activities
Situations within these categories do not need to result in a specific outcome (e.g., arrest or investigation) to be considered a reportable contact.
Citizen Calls for Service
These are requests from any member of the public for law enforcement officers to resolve, correct, or assist with a particular situation. Examples include disturbance calls, arrest situations, responses to a crime in progress, reports of a crime, or citizen complaints.
Included in this category are activities in which a law enforcement unit or officer initiates contact with the public to resolve, correct, or assist in a particular situation. Helping a motorist, interviewing a witness, conducting a traffic stop, and engaging in a foot pursuit are examples of these contacts.
Such activities can include providing court security or escorting prisoners.
How Is Data Reported?
Number of Interactions
The reported number of LEPCs comprises the total interactions in each of the three specified categories of contact. However, it does not include all individuals encountered during an incident.
For example, if an officer stops a vehicle for faulty equipment and four people are inside, the agency should report only one contact. Or, if an officer responds to a home invasion, the agency should report one contact and not count each household member at the residence at the time of the occurrence. The number of victims and other data related to the incident should be reported in NIBRS.
Another example involves two contacts occurring simultaneously. While responding to an active shooter incident at a parade, an officer receives a report from a citizen of a robbery. The agency should count these incidents as two contacts — one for the active shooter and one for the robbery.
Actual and Estimated Numbers
Law enforcement agencies should collect public contact data using either actual or estimated numbers.
Many agencies can determine the actual number of contacts with the public during a calendar year by using a variety of systems and resources. These may include a computer-aided dispatch system, records management system, or other source (e.g., docket sheets and call logs) that facilitates incident response and communication in the field.
Estimated numbers of contacts are those not reported in a law enforcement system and based on an officer’s workload (e.g., citations, street/foot patrol, traffic duty, public outreach). These numbers account for various situations agencies respond to and depend on proper interpretation of the data.
How Will This Data Be Used?
The UCR Program will use the submitted data to provide context to other information, such as that contained in the National Use-of-Force and LEOKA Data Collections. These data collections can now display the total number of law enforcement interactions, rather than only showing data for the incidents. In other words, LEPC data provides a denominator that allows for ratio calculations to better understand the frequency of certain events, like uses of force or officer assaults.
“The LEPC Data Collection gathers data on law enforcement public contacts, defined as incidents or occurrences where an officer is called to respond to a scene by a citizen(s) or initiates an activity that results in contact with a citizen(s).”
National Use-of-Force Data Collection
Law enforcement agencies can submit data related to use-of-force incidents to the National Use-of-Force Data Collection. Three types of incidents can be submitted.
- When a fatality occurs to an individual as a result of use of force by a law enforcement officer.
- When an individual has a serious bodily injury because of use of force by a law enforcement officer.
- In the absence of death or serious bodily injury, when a law enforcement officer discharges a firearm at or in the direction of a person.
By supplementing use-of-force data with LEPC data, the UCR Program can provide the ratio of use-of-force incidents to law enforcement interactions.
LEOKA Data Collection
LEOKA collects data on officers feloniously or accidentally killed or assaulted while performing their duties. The purpose of LEOKA is to provide lifesaving information with insight on why and how an incident occurred. The FBI’s Officer Safety Awareness Training (OSAT) Team uses LEOKA information to create curriculum to help keep officers safe.
OSAT incorporates topics such as unprovoked attacks and ambushes into its training based on LEOKA data. As with the National Use-of-Force Data Collection, LEPC data could add value to LEOKA by incorporating the total number of law enforcement interactions. For instance, with statistics based on LEPC data, an officer could consider the likelihood of an assault occurring while escorting a prisoner.
Why Should Agencies Submit Data?
The LEPC Data Collection provides context to several UCR Program data collections, and law enforcement and the public can use the detailed data to better understand certain circumstances and situations, allocate resources more strategically, and create informed policies.
In addition, agencies are encouraged to use the recordkeeping systems they already have in place to document their public contacts, which can make tracking LEPC data more manageable. They only need to submit data once a year, and it is free using the bulk submission options or the LEPC Submission Page in the Collection of Law Enforcement and Crime Tool (COLECT) within the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP).
No other data points or information are required (e.g., weapons, time, location, age, race); all that is needed is an aggregate number that represents an agency’s contacts with the public throughout one calendar year. This annual count could significantly change the discussion around the data in the National Use-of-Force and LEOKA Data Collections.
How Do Agencies Submit Data?
Law enforcement agencies or UCR state programs can submit annual LEPC counts — actual or estimated — to the LEPC Data Collection.
For bulk submissions, agencies can use a flat file technical specification or a web services option through the program office. Otherwise, they can submit data via the LEPC Submission Page (after gaining access) in COLECT within the LEEP.
To obtain a LEEP account, law enforcement personnel can visit https://www.cjis.gov/ and complete the online application. For more information about the LEPC Data Collection, agencies can visit the LEPC page on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer or email UCR Program staff at LEPC@fbi.gov.
“The UCR Program will use the submitted data to provide context to other information, such as that contained in the National Use-of-Force and LEOKA Data Collections.”
Submitted by McKenna R. Atha, writer-editor in the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division.