PROJECTCatalyst Grant Program



Invisible Institute

Open Data Expansion in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois

Champaign-Urbana, IL

Research consistently shows racial and ethnic disparities in police searches and arrests, use of excessive force, and use of deadly force. Also, emerging evidence suggests disparities in use of force against disabled people. Though police misconduct, particularly excessive and deadly force, in larger cities often commands the most attention, the problem is much broader. In the city of Champaign, Illinois, force is used against Black people at 14 times the rate it is used against white people.

 With Catalyst Grant funding, the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism organization on the South Side of Chicago, will partner with CU-CitizenAccess to develop and launch a new version of the institute’s Citizens Police Data Project tool covering the Champaign-Urbana metro area. Unveiled in 2015, the first version of the data tool displays hundreds of thousands of complaints and use-of-force incidents by Chicago police officers. For the new version, the Invisible Institute will engage people in Champaign-Urbana directly affected by policing to help guide design decisions. The effort will involve processing and analyzing data on complaints and uses of force the institute has collected using the Freedom of Information Act. The institute then plans to make those records widely available through a public website and to publish the underlying data. It will use Microsoft Azure to automate data extraction from PDFs and process the data.


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