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Federal law enforcement officials, criminal justice experts and communities across the country have recognized that the lack of collection and reporting of policing data by states is a national problem that jeopardizes accountability, justice and public safety. Yet, there is no state or federal requirement to address this. It leaves a void in the ability to understand the impact of policing on communities, and how policing can be improved to advance justice and safety.
Like other states, New York lacks comprehensive data collection and reporting requirements, leaving the state with no public accounting of police activity – from routine activity to even the number of people killed during a law enforcement encounter. Possessing comprehensive data to fully understand policing and its impact is vital to conversations about reform, justice and public safety. It’s time for transparency.
New York should be a leader in collecting information on the impact of police activity across the state. The Police Statistics and Transparency (“Police-‐STAT”) Act (A.5946-‐Lentol/S147-‐Squadron) would allow the state to capture and publicly report vital information about policing, including:
- The total number of arrests and tickets for violations and misdemeanors each year, and information on their dispositions. Violations and misdemeanors are the most frequent law enforcement charges, and the least transparent. They are also the acts our Legislature has determined are the least serious—things like riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, or possessing an open container of alcohol.
- The race, ethnicity, age, and sex of people who are charged with violations and misdemeanors. Limited available data on violations in New York City shows serious racial disparities: from 2002—2014, nearly 81% of tickets went to Black and Latino residents. 
- The total number of people who die during an interaction with police or in police custody each year, including demographic information. Across the nation, advocates and policymakers are insisting this important statistic be reported.
- The location of enforcement activity and arrest-related deaths. We know that communities experience policing differently, yet we don’t have the critical data to measure—much less reform—unfair impact. Geographic reporting will help complete the picture of low-level enforcement throughout the state.
One of the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing is for law enforcement agencies “to collect and maintain demographic data on all police actions (stops, frisks, searches, summonses, arrests, officer—involved shootings, and in-custody deaths).” There is no good reason to keep this information in the dark. The NYS legislatures should demonstrate national leadership by taking this important step.