Students for Urban Data Systems

at Carnegie Mellon University

Work Night: Criminal Justice + Data

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We’re starting with the 2013 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey. To access the data:
  1. Follow this link: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/NACJD/studies/36164
  2. Scroll down to “Datasets”
  3. We suggest downloading the “Excel/TSV” dataset. This is an easy format and the .zip contains the Codebook as well.
  4. Unzip the file and open what should be the only folder — “DS0001”.
  5. (Optional) If you’d like, run this R file to simplify the dataset down to fewer variables and/or to Pennsylvania only or Allegheny County only.
  6. Starting on Page 9 of the .pdf (36164-0001-Codebook.pdf) are descriptions of the variables. Starting on Page 311 is the survey that they sent to police departments in order to collect the information. Helps clarify some of the variables.
  7. Go for it! Open the file in Excel, R, Python, Tableau, Google Charts, or some other cool thing I forgot to list and start looking around. Talk with people around you. There are some questions listed below to get you started.
  8. This step is important: Share what you’re doing! Join this hackpad page to share any interesting variables, or your findings, or to add questions that can help guide others analysis.
Sample questions for the LEMAS dataset:
  • For any of these questions — are there trends between departments that do or do not utilize certain methods, or policies?
  • How many officers per jurisdiction population do different departments have?
  • Which departments allow officers to work outside the department in a law-enforcement capacity [PAY_OUT & PAY_RST_NO variables]?
  • Which departments have community-oriented policing strategies [COM_MIS variable]?
  • Which departments have cameras on officers [TECH_TYP_VPAT variable]?
  • What departments are analyzing their data [TECH_WHO_STAFF & TECH_WHO_EXTR variables], and who is analyzing it [subsequent variables]
  • Which departments are opening summary data to the public [TECH_WEB_JUR through TECH_WEB_OTHR]?
  • How many dogs per police officer, or per population, in each department [in 2007 version of survey]? 

PS. If you want some tips on using Tableau to visualize data, this tutorial from a former SUDSer can get you started. The video starts with pulling data from a public API, which we’re not doing here, you’ll have to bring the data in manually, but after that follow along.

PPS. If you tweet / insta / etc… #SUDSWorkNight

Author: Lauren Renaud

SUDS leadership team: director of data projects

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