Multnomah County has a long tradition of demanding data and analysis to support the development, implementation and evaluation of public safety strategies, policies and programs. Although this demand for quantitative analysis is not unique, relatively few local governments have been willing to invest in an integrated database as complex, versatile and easy to use as DSS-J. Over the past decade, the system has made public safety data more accessible to all justice partners and has revealed inconsistencies between data reporting that encourage coordination and agreement among source systems. With this shift toward greater data accessibility and consistency also emerges an increased demand for greater transparency and accountability: no longer mysterious and accessible to only a select few, public safety data (and analysis) can be requested by policy makers and County officials to test the philosophies, opinions and anecdotes typically used to support budget, policy and individual sentencing, release and probation violation decisions.
Despite this wealth of public safety data and ever-increasing accessibility and accuracy, many programs within the County still do not utilize DSS-J or the cross-agency data available in its warehouse to measure program performance. For example, the Sentencing Support Tool (see page 4) has advanced data transparency and accessibility and empowered justice professionals to understand how their decisions impact community and offender outcomes. Unfortunately, only a handful of judges, attorneys, and other justice professionals actually make use of this tool.
For DSS-J to realize its potential as the foundation for data-driven public safety policy, Multnomah County’s policy makers and justice professionals must continue to demand meaningful data and statistics to support their policies and practices. The demand for data by the county’s leaders is essential to ensuring DSS-J’s value to the county and to justifying the county’s substantial ongoing investment in this data system.
Urge the Board of County Commissioners and LPSCC’s Executive Committee to continue to demand system-wide data and analysis from affected justice agencies and LPSCC as a precondition to their support for new or existing public safety strategies, programs and budget requests; examples of system-wide data that should be included in these analyses are recidivism, re-arrest, failure-to-appear and program completion. The burden of providing data should be placed on the proponent of the new policy or program. Such persistent demand for data and analysis will ensure that the value of DSS-J is fully realized and encourage the adoption of data-driven public safety policies and evidence-based practices that reduce crime and recidivism.
Lead: Peter Ozanne