For quite some time now it seems that our ability to generate data far outstrips our ability to put it to good use. An example appeared in the Sunday edition of The Free Press.

According to Mankato Director of Public Safety Amy Vokal law enforcement agencies are on the front end of learning how to interpret data on race — data, which in some cases has been collected for years. This isn't a jab at law enforcement, it just seems that if you're going to require data to be collected, you should first understand how to analyze it.

What's your goal for its use? Additionally, I think if data collection is optional, its use for analysis is dubious at best. To further cloud the reporting, nowhere in the article was it mentioned what percentage of arrests led to convictions, nowhere was it mentioned in what percentage of "use-of-force" events involved the subject resisting or refusing to comply.

Moreover, I foresee problems if we're now asking officers to guess the race of people they stop/arrest. If this information is important enough to know, I agree with St. Peter City Administrator Todd Prafke — make it part of the Minnesota driver's license and take the officer's guesswork out of the equation. This is low-hanging fruit.

Let's not turn people who exhibit bad behavior into victims.

Mark Anderson


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