Locate Data Sources
Combing the internet for published data
You don't need to know how to code to do this! However, feel free to write scripts or tools to help you in your work. If you make something super-useful, please consider sharing it back with the community in GitHub.
If you're not sure where to start, pick a local precinct that means something to you. Make it a goal to find all potential Data Sources for that area.
Our advice: start where you live. Check our existing agencies and data sources, filtering by your county. Chances are, you can find something we're missing. You can poke around government websites, and ask local people who might know where to start—for example, a reporter, attorney, councilperson, or activist group who may already using the data...or collected public records they might want to share!
This process should take 1–5 minutes per source, depending on the source and how quick you are with a keyboard.
- 2.Pick an agency to focus on; it may be the one in your hometown, or the school police from your university.
- 3.Check to see whether there are already Data Sources for the agency you're working on by using filters in the Data Sources table. It's early—chances are, we haven't made it to your agency yet!
- 4.Find Data Sources to submit. These are commonly found on police, court, or corrections agency websites. You can find examples in the Data Sources table.
- 5.Fill in as much info as you can, and submit. Only the fields marked with a * are required, but more information helps people find the source.
- 6.Find as many Data Sources as you can from your chosen agency, and repeat!
To protect us all from spam and rudeness, only approved submissions are published. Our team reviews these at least weekly.
If you already have several of Data Sources in a spreadsheet—maybe from a previous project, or because you collected them in bulk—you can submit them to us in any format.
- 1.Check to see whether there are already Data Sources for the agency you're working on.
- 2.Optionally, head to the existing Data Sources table and download a CSV to get the most recent format. This will help us import and approve your Data Sources more quickly.
If you've FOIA requested, scraped, or otherwise collected police data, you can add yourself to our Data Sources table!
In the event that someone wants to use data you've provided, you can give instructions for how you should be contacted. PDAP can also serve as a go-between to protect your identity.
If you discover an inaccuracy, you can email [email protected]. If it's more convenient, you can submit changes via CSV:
- 2.Use the triple-dot button in the menu bar to
- 3.Open the CSV in the tool of your choice—Excel, Google Sheets, or a dedicated CSV editor.
- 4.Remove all the rows but the ones you want to change.
We'll import the CSV and make sure the changes are reflected appropriately.
If you know of a police agency but can't find it in our Agencies table, you can submit it using the "Submit an Agency" form.
To make bulk changes, you can use the "Submit bulk Agencies or Data Sources" form. We'll merge your changes using the