About OpenOversight

OpenOversight is a Lucy Parsons Labs project that aims to improve law enforcement visibility and transparency using public and crowdsourced data. We maintain databases, digital galleries, and profiles of individual law enforcement officers from departments across the United States that consolidate information including names, birthdates, mentions in news articles, salaries, and photographs.

This project is a response to the lack of transparency and justice in policing. The public should have the right to know which officers are patrolling their neighborhoods and watching their communities. When officers abuse their positions of power, they should be able to be easily identified and held accountable.

It is the first project of its kind in the United States, and was first implemented in Chicago in October 2016. OpenOversight launched in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area in fall 2017 and in New York City in 2018. A Baltimore instance was launched in 2019 at BPDWatch.com.

OpenOversight is released as free and open source software so others can launch similar law enforcement accountability projects in their own cities. The software is available for download and collaborative development on GitHub.


A note to law enforcement

Illinois: This project does not perform facial recognition on officers in Illinois and is thus in compliance with the Biometric Information Privacy Act. Requests or questions regarding this project from those affiliated with law enforcement must be directed to our legal representation at legal@lucyparsonslabs.com.

Contact and media

For media inquiries about OpenOversight, please email media@lucyparsonslabs.com. For other inquiries about the project, including collaboration, please contact openoversight@lucyparsonslabs.com.

Press Release

In support of demands for greater police accountability, Illinois nonprofit The Lucy Parsons Labs launched OpenOversight, an interactive web tool and accountability platform that makes it easier for the public to identify police officers, including for the purpose of complains. We rely on crowdsourced and public data to build a database of police officers in a city, allowing the public to filter through the dataset to find the name and badge number of the offending officer.

Using OpenOversight, members of the public can search for the names and badge numbers of police with whom they have negative interactions using the officer's estimated age, race and gender. Using this information, the OpenOversight web application returns a digital gallery of potential matches and, when possible, includes pictures of officers in uniform to assist in identification. "The deck is stacked against people harmed by police," says Jennifer Helsby, CTO of the Lucy Parsons Labs and lead developer on the OpenOversight project. "Police are almost never held accountable for misconduct or crimes they commit. To file a misconduct complaint, the burden is on the public to provide as much detailed data about the officer as possible. OpenOversight aims to empower citizens with tools that make it easier to identify officers and hold them accountable."

Facts and Figures about the Chicago Police Department

To file a police complaint in Chicago, a member of the public needs to know as much detailed data about the officer as possible. Based on complaints data from the Invisible Institute, from March 2011 - March 2015, 28% of complaints (4,000 total complaints) were immediately dropped due to no officer identification.

Source: Citizen Police Data Project

Less than 2% of the 28,567 complaints filed against the Chicago police department from March 2011 to September 2015 resulted in discipline. Most officers who do face discipline are suspended for a week or less.

Source: Citizens Police Data Project

All complaints against officers must be supported by a sworn affidavit. False complaints can result in perjury charges, a Class 3 felony.

Source: Chicago Police

Chicago spent over $500 million from 2004 to 2014 on settlements, legal fees and other costs related to complaints against police officers.

Source: Better Government Association

In 2015, there was no discipline in more than 99 percent of the thousands of misconduct complaints against Chicago police officers.

Source: New York Times