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Research on Injuries Caused by Law Enforcement

The Law Enforcement Epidemiology Project at the University of Illinois Chicago aims to conduct novel research on risk factors and long term outcomes following an injury caused during contact with law enforcement.

Completed Research Heading link

Comprehensive Surveillance System

We have described a framework for a comprehensive surveillance system based on existing public health data sources that can be implemented immediately to augment police reports and data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Comparison of National Data Systems

We also characterized the substantial differences in reported numbers and rates across existing federal surveillance tools.

High Risk Groups

We found that legal-intervention injuries had more severe outcomes and disproportionately impacted African Americans, persons with motor disabilities and individuals with psychiatric conditions.

Risk Among Black/African-Americans

Civilian injuries caused by law enforcement impacts all citizens in the State of Illinois, but clearly Black men are consistently and disproportionately the victims of both fatal and non-fatal injuries caused by law enforcement.

Urban and Non-Urban Incidents

Injuries occur across the State of Illinois and are not isolated to major urban centers.  Models demonstrated that as the percent of minority residents in a ZIP code increased, injury rates among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic/Latino residents decreased.  As community economic disadvantage increased at the ZIP code level, civilian injury rates increased.  Communities with the highest injury rates involving non-Hispanic white residents were significantly more economically unequal and disadvantaged.

Research in progress Heading link

Data Linkage of Multiple Datasets

To estimate the cumulative number of unique cases occurring annually, we are linking data across each of the data systems used for surveillance using multi-stage probabilistic linkage methods.

Ongoing Analyses

Ongoing detailed analyses will continue to be conducted on available datasets describing patient demographics, exposure (mechanism of injury), circumstances leading to injury, health outcomes (diagnoses, hospital procedures, discharge status) and costs associated with medical care and lost productivity.

Long-Term Outcomes

Interviews of civilians injured during a legal intervention to better describe the circumstances which led to the injury (an arrest, traffic stop, police called to the scene), cost and type of medical care required, their relationship with the officer(s) that was involved in the injury, general changes in their relationship with law enforcement (fear of the police, mistrust), the cause of the incident from their perspective, the role of racism/bigotry/abuse of power, and long term changes in physical and psychological health, activities of daily living, social support and home life, finances, and ability to return to work.

Barriers to Reporting Injuries

Interviews of medical, law enforcement and policy professionals on the process of coding and reporting of legal intervention injuries, barriers to reporting, how police maintain custody during the transport and treatment of these patients, attitudes towards use of force by police among these professionals, administrative and system pressures, the role and extent of training, general awareness of the magnitude of police violence, and attitudes towards civilians injured during legal intervention.

Validation of ICD-10 Coding

We are validating the coding used in hospital records to verify reliability and validity of ICD-10 codes.  In addition, we are evaluating the use of ICD-10 codes in reference to law enforcement personnel injuries.  Initial work confirms that the majority of officers injured based on ICD-10 coding are in fact security guards assaulted on the job during robberies.