There are a handful of states that keep records of police force, but they are incomplete records, and they're maintained on paper; contrast that with URSUS, California's new tool that collects every single use of force, storing it in open, transparent free software maintained by Bayes Impact, a nonprofit.
California — the most populous state in the union — will make its data available to all comers, and will make its software available to other states. The FBI is collecting national stats, but allowing individual states to opt out.
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said she thinks the new data will show a pattern of abuse across the state. But actually collecting that data is positive, she said.
"We live in a culture that perpetuates racism and we need to be able to verify that racism through data," she said. "For the people who continue to deny racial disparities exist in this country, this data will allow us to have those living room and dinner conversations and share facts."
Many in law enforcement think the data will show just how rare force incidents are, said Louis Dekmar, vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and chief of the LaGrange Police Department in Georgia.
But the data also will help pinpoint excessive force and help departments make key changes, he added.
Amid scrutiny, California to track all police use of force
[Amanda Lee Myers/AP]