Wilson Center Creates Database to Track Policing Legislation

three police officers walk away from the camera toward a crowd of people

This week marks the third anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd. In the first year after Floyd’s death, 1,489 bills relating to police violence were proposed. However, only 169 became law. That is just one of the findings in a database created by the Wilson Center for Science and Justice to better understand lawmaking in response to calls for reform.

“The high-profile police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others as well as the ensuing protests in the summer of 2020 brought renewed attention to the issue of policing and use of force,” says Brandon Garrett, a law professor at Duke University and a leading scholar of criminal justice outcomes, evidence and constitutional rights.

“But to truly understand if those calls for change are having any effect on policy, it is critical that we document legislation governing police. This database, the largest of its kind and one which will be continually updated, allows policymakers, academics and other stakeholders to more fully understand the amount, distribution and content of policing legislation across the country.”

This database, which has been and will continue to be updated continually, currently includes almost 3,000 bills, federal, state, and local, across the range of topics related to law enforcement, introduced from Fall 2019 to present. It is searchable by year, state, and topic of legislation.

You can read our initial findings in our report here, and access the full database here. For more on the database, you can see the full story in Duke Today.