Frequently Asked Questions

PDAP’s team of engineers, lawyers and journalists use scrapers and freedom of information act requests from the websites of local and national law enforcement agencies. Our product is a consolidated and easy to use interface for this library of law enforcement records that any member of the public can use entirely free of charge.

Our goal is to provide any and all publicly available law enforcement data on a platform anyone can use and understand. In addition to that interface, we publish highlights of that data and provide an analysis of those highlights for the public.

Law enforcement data, especially at the local level, is hidden in the corners of the internet, obfuscated by bureaucracy, and served up via low quality user experiences. All this makes it difficult for citizens to access, consolidate, and make use of the data for accurate and factual inferences.

Our target user demographic is the data analytics and justice sector so they may examine law enforcement trends. The product will also benefit broader swathes of the population, such as academics studies, press coverage, government oversight, elected officials, and the law enforcement agencies themselves.

Existing groups procure information only from select agencies based upon size or proximity, resulting in duplicate data and increasing the time and effort necessary to consolidate for research or policy initiatives. Our mission scope includes all law enforcement agencies to which we may submit FOIA requests and procure relevant information. By providing a standard interface for accessing consolidated data on both a local and national scale we would make analysis easier to perform, decrease the overhead costs of other organizations in fulfilling their goals, and provide a simple source for the public to research and learn about law enforcement activity and trends.

Kristin Tynski is our founder and continues to be our guide. A rough timeline of the project can be viewed below:

1.
Sept - Nov 2019: Project for Lawsuit.org with Palm Beach data to examine trends in traffic citations and arrests.
2.
Nov 2019: Blog post: Scraping Court Records Data to Find Dirty Cops.
3.
May 18, 2020: Article on reddit trended on several large subreddits (1,2,3)
4.
May 18, 2020: Slack group began. Over 70 people joined in the first few days.
5.
May 25, 2020: Posted about our momentum on r/privacy subreddit. The post caught fire.
6.
June 1, 2020: Slack group now has over 1,500 members, growing by about 50-200 each day of that month. Also, a growing subreddit has been established, with more than 3,400 subscribers so far. The Github repo was established by our engineers. Contributing guidelines were established, and our initial Sr. leadership team and organizational team structure was established.

Yes. All information we consolidate is information that is already accessible publicly via government resources. We are in-effect clipping newspaper blotter reports and making them available to everyone, except we are using the internet instead of the printing press.

No. We work diligently to gather information in our database and present that information as neutrally as possible in the form of academic-type research. We recognize the immense challenge and importance of our work of education and accessibility in an age of increasing misinformation. Our key mission is to provide the public with all the data they need to make their own informed decisions.

Trust is the reason this project hit a nerve with our volunteers when we began, and it's the very purpose behind why we continue to exist today.

Every single step in our process is accessible and transparent for anyone curious in our procedure for procuring data. You can see our open source github project here as well as full explanations accompanying each of our analysis’ published on our site.

We’re entirely 100% volunteer-run at the moment, but are in the process of developing an organization with 501c3 status so that we may apply for grants in the future.