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Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team

Today’s societal challenges feel insurmountable. We’re immersed in news and social media posts about racism and violence that overwhelm and challenge us. 

 

There is no single dataset of insights, no workflow of cleverly connected tools, that can bring about resolution and justice. But we can each bring our expertise, our compassion and our voices to the effort to effect change. 

 

logan-weaver-uwyqYYWUQJw-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Logan Weaver

 

As when we first began discussing COVID-19 here on the Community, we wanted to share some data-focused resources for those hoping to help. While the challenges are immense, there are avenues for those seeking to use their skills to fight against racism and, in particular, against unnecessary use of force by police against black people and other people of color. 

 

In the U.S., there is no comprehensive federal database that documents use of force by law enforcement. Data collection at the national level began in 2019, but reporting is not mandatory for law enforcement agencies. So far, according to Marketplace, only about 40% of agencies have contributed data. The first release of partial data is scheduled for this summer. This lack of centralized reporting has led many news and advocacy organizations to develop their own databases.

 

Data journalists have played a key role in collecting and sharing this information. For example, the Washington Post has continuously tracked fatal shootings by on-duty police officers in the U.S. since 2015 -- now numbering over 5,000. You can read the story and download the database for your own analysis. FiveThirtyEight has combined multiple data sources for a look at both fatal and non-fatal shootings by police, highlighting interesting findings about differences in urban, suburban and rural areas. Vice News collected and published a report and database of fatal and non-fatal shootings from 2010 to 2017. 

 

You may also find good sources more local to you, such as The Homicide Report from the Los Angeles Times, which is continuously maintained. The Texas Tribune also produced a lengthy report and publicly available database of incidents that occurred from 2010 to 2015. 

 

Data visualizations regarding these incidents are also thought-provoking. The Mapping Police Violence project offers striking maps and other visualizations of data about people killed by police in the U.S., such as the map below.

 

 

If you’re interested in your hometown’s policy about police use of force -- or want to web-scrape and analyze many policies -- check out this open-source database of policies for police departments in the 100 largest U.S. cities. (As you’ll see there, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were necessary to obtain many of these policies, as they often are not readily available to the public. If you want to file your own FOIA request for data or policies, you can create a request for free with the FOIA Machine.)

 

As this Nature article explains, the lack of consistently reported, uniform data on police shootings makes it difficult to fully evaluate police use of force and its relationship with race. However, as data experts who value informed decisions based on evidence, we can recognize trends and patterns that should deeply trouble us all and motivate us to work together for change.

 

What can you do with these resources? Gaining a deeper understanding of the issue through reading and listening is critical. Analyzing data to explore these concerns, maybe in your own local area, would also be a great step. Sharing what you learn with others builds awareness and supports the shared movement for change. Taking action will help us collectively build a more just, safer, transparent, and informed society.



P.S.: I want to acknowledge that racism and violence against people of color are not solely American problems -- far from it. I would greatly appreciate the thoughts and any suggestions of locally relevant data sources from our Community members outside the U.S.

 

Update:

We’d love to invite you into conversation on these topics. @WillM has started a discussion for us to join and offers some compelling questions to consider: “What other data sources are available that could enhance this topic and provide more clarity? What could local data tell me about my region, and would that mesh with my own experience? Does diving into this impact my perspective in a meaningful way?”

Susan Currie Sivek
Data Science Journalist

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is a writer and data geek who enjoys figuring out how to explain complicated ideas in everyday language. After 15 years as a journalism professor and researcher in academia, Susan shifted her focus to data science and analytics, but still loves to share knowledge in creative ways. She appreciates good food, science fiction, and dogs.

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is a writer and data geek who enjoys figuring out how to explain complicated ideas in everyday language. After 15 years as a journalism professor and researcher in academia, Susan shifted her focus to data science and analytics, but still loves to share knowledge in creative ways. She appreciates good food, science fiction, and dogs.

Comments
Alteryx Certified Partner
Alteryx Certified Partner

@SusanCS ,

 

 thanks for your post. I'm seeking AFG opportunities. I saw this article and reposted on community:  https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Discussions/Maintaining-Professionalism-In-The-Age-of-Black-Death-I...  

cheers,

 

 mark

Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team

@MarqueeCrew, thank you for reposting that article! I appreciated reading it and learned a lot. @WillM just launched a discussion to bring us all into this conversation.