chapter  3
National Police Use of Force Data
ByJon Shane, Zoë Swenson
Pages 5

Chapter 3 presents the Washington Post data and the methodology for conducting the study. The Post data were selected because they were publicly available and have been validated by other studies. When traditional or official data sources are unavailable to study a given phenomenon, scholars have used open-source data as an alternative, including studies involving political and ideological violence and various forms of terrorism. Official data for nationwide incident-based use of force does not exist in the United States. The unit of analysis is the shooting incident and data cover the period from January 2, 2015 to December 29, 2016 (n = 112). Despite the small sample, power analysis shows the study is adequately powered. The strength of data is that it does not capture fatalities involving people in police custody, federal sworn officers, shootings by off-duty officers, corrections officers, or non-shooting deaths, which are reflected in other similar sources. Also, when compared to federal or state sources, open sources such as the Post have been shown to capture between 30% and 45% more cases, which ensures more reliable estimates. Five research questions are presented that answer some pressing questions about the police use of deadly force.