We're activists, researchers, journalists, municipal workers, and other people interested in transparent government.

Email us at [email protected] or join the Discord to get in touch. We also have a newsletter.

Strategy & Goals

The criminal legal system is decentralized; our approach embraces this, working locally first to make an immediate impact on transparency and access to data.

Our data is crowdsourced in collaboration with the community of people who need police data for their work.

Think Wikipedia meets Open Elections meets Internet Archive.

You can learn even more about our founding case study, process, and goals in slideshow format here.

Current focus

We're mapping Data Sources: which records are available? How are they accessed? How were they generated? How usable are they?

This work documents the current state of transparency in each jurisdiction, and lays the foundation for future work using this data.

Next up

We'll focus on helping people take ownership of their local Data Sources using our tools. People doing different kinds of work with the same data can share code, information, and computing power.

To get here, we'll need to build capacity with dedicated staff for community management and technical support.

Long term

PDAP becomes a trusted hub for directly accessing police data.

To get here, we'll need to be able to store large amounts of data responsibly. We'll need robust hosting infrastructure and operations support. In the meantime, we're learning about our users and how we can make the biggest impact.

To see our code-related plans and progress, check out our roadmap.

People involved

The PDAP non-profit builds a collection of open-source apps and services to help the community write scrapers and archive data. It is funded by grants and individual contributions.

The board is Eddie Brown, Alec Akin, and Josh Lintag.

Our Executive Director is Josh Chamberlain.

We are proud to receive generous support from The Heinz Endowments, early believers in our vision in 2022 who renewed their grant in 2023.

We are also grateful for the financial and advisory support of Gabriel Weinberg.

The PDAP community is made up of people across the country using and generating data about their local criminal legal systems.

Even at a local level, this work is difficult and multidisciplinary. Every criminal legal system has people studying it—this is the community that created PDAP, and we make tools to help us all collaborate.

To join us, reach out to [email protected] or join our Discord server.

Operating principles

We are local-first. Police systems are locally operated, and data needs to be in its original context to be useful. We create tools to help people work with local data everywhere.

We are not creating a massive, interoperable database. This is partly a defense mechanism against weaponized data about criminalized people, and partly because our users simply aren't asking for it.

There are tens of thousands of police agencies in the United States. No one can be an expert on all of them.

The people impacted by a local agency know best what should be archived and how it should be accessed.

Currently, people share data with each other through existing networks and relationships. We are augmenting these relationships, not replacing them.

We are only interested in solutions which could survive the collapse of our organization. Our work is open-source.

We're using Pittsburgh, PA as our headquarters and a proving ground for our early work. As we find ways to add value here, we can expand the strategies to work everywhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of data do you collect?

Anything published by or about a criminal legal system agency: courts, jails, and law enforcement (police). You can read more about what a Data Source is in our docs.

Who is this data for?

The simple answer: everybody! Public records should be public.

Some real examples based on our hundreds of hours of research:

Why are you different from police watchdog groups?

Our activism is data collection and accessibility. We aren't targeting "bad apples." we're documenting local systems for the benefit of anyone who believes we should have good systems.

Is this legal?

Yes. We're consolidating public information, in accordance with established legal precedents.

Are you affiliated with a political party?

No. Our only motivation is to provide better access to public records in an age of disinformation. Our members have diverse perspectives and goals for police institutions, but we are united by the common goal of transparency.

How do we know you work with good data and that we can trust you?

Every step in our process is accessible and transparent.

Where do you get your funding?

We're a 501c3 non-profit. We are accepting donations. The bulk of our funding comes from The Heinz Endowments.