In Kentucky, it is a big year for data and public safety. As you have likely seen on the news, our state is undertaking two innovative projects in 2019 that demonstrate how data collection benefits law enforcement, albeit in very different ways.
The first relates to driver safety. Gov. Matt Bevin and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced a partnership with law enforcement in March to create an emergency-contact registry so that loved ones are notified in the event of a serious crash.
The project, called Emergency Notice, will allow Kentuckians to voluntarily submit the name and phone number of an emergency contact using an online portal at drive.ky.gov. Police will be able to access that information through the National Crime Information Center database following an accident or similar emergency.
It is a perfect example of government agencies working together on public safety; Kentucky State Police piloted the project for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and the Department of Criminal Justice Training is helping spread the word.
Emergency Notice also shows how law enforcement can use crowdsourced data to improve police work and better connect with communities.
The second initiative – known as the Safe Streets & Second Chances project or S3C – involves using data to improve reentry policy and help offenders remain law-abiding after they leave prison. Kentucky is one of only four states selected to participate. Others include Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
Gov. Bevin and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet joined with leaders from S3C to roll out the project in March, although it has been underway in Kentucky for several months. The goal is to identify the primary factors that help offenders successfully assimilate back into society.
Researchers at Florida State University are following more than 1,500 participants, including 230 in Kentucky, to analyze which reentry strategies are most effective. We expect to use the data in real time to improve policies at the Department of Corrections.
Taxpayers are investing nearly $600 million a year in corrections, and we are committed to providing the best possible results for public safety. That is important for law enforcement as well; better reentry results in less crime and fewer encounters with police. Moreover, reducing the ever-higher financial burden of incarceration frees up more funds and resources for law enforcement.
I highlight these two projects because, as I have argued many times, data-driven solutions are vital to everything we do in criminal justice, and our commitment to evidence-based policy has never been stronger.
I firmly believe that experience and instincts are essential to great policing. However, we must also seize every opportunity in data and research to make the job of law enforcement easier.