Report: Bias in DC Police Threat Assessment Process

SCI Instructor Dr. John P. Sullivan contributed to a recent report by the National Policing Institute assessing potential bias in threat assessments for First Amendment demonstrations conducted by the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department. The independent review was conducted for the District of Columbia Office of Police Complaints pursuant to the Bias in Threat Assessments Evaluation Amendment Act of 2021. The report, “A Study of Bias in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Threat Assessment Process,” is available online.

Abstract: The purpose of the Institute’s independent review of the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) protest threat assessment process is to determine whether threat assessments conducted by MPD have been or are influenced by bias when planning for and executing a response to First Amendment demonstrations. The legislation specifically requested that the study utilize arrest data, public and officer injury data, type of injury reports, fatality numbers, officer deployment data, tactical and type of weaponry used, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) terrorist watchlist data to determine if and how MPD responses varied. The Institute’s team worked to gain access to and review all available data regarding MPD responses to first amendment demonstrations to determine if bias played a role in MPD threat assessments from January 2017 – January 2021, and to provide recommendations for mitigating bias in the threat assessment process and producing a report that captures the information.

Read the full report.

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The Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the USC Price School of Public Policy continues a more than 60-year tradition of research, interdisciplinary education, and collaboration to advance sustainable “whole-of-community” public safety strategies, policies, and programs. SCI takes a holistic approach to encouraging and informing public safety efforts through collaboration between all public safety disciplines and the communities they serve.

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