CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — One researcher said the numbers behind police involved lethal force across the state is something the public should know. Now, his research is aiming to fill the gaps, while bringing transparency to the community.
It’s part of the new SPOTLITE online database. It launched on Friday and stands for “Systematic Policing Oversight Through Lethal-Force Incident Tracking Environment.”
Researchers from the Cline Center for Advanced Social Research at U of I’s Research Park have been working on it for the last five years.
It’s bringing light to the number of times police in Illinois have used lethal force between 2014 and 2021. The database lists any time police have used guns, deadly or not. As well as any other use of force ending in death.
The website breaks down the findings by county. Statewide, they’ve confirmed 694 uses of lethal force. 62% of those incidents were in Cook County.
In Central Illinois, SPOTLITE recorded 7 in Champaign County, 6 in Vermilion County, 6 in Macon County and 4 in Sangamon County.
Scott Althaus, Cline Center’s director, said he wants to help find answers. So far, he said SPOTLITE found more than twice as many police uses of lethal force than previously recorded by the state.
“Our focus has been to get this data out into the public eye as soon as possible so communities and researchers and law enforcement agencies across the state can begin using this information to help us better understand what’s going on,” Altaus said.
He said SPOTLITE will help police maintain accurate records, and show them when change is needed, or when reform is working.
“We’re hoping to fill out the informational picture of what’s going on in each of these incidents in ways that can improve officer safety, can inform best practices for use of force policies, and also improve the effectiveness of training programs designed to help law enforcement to exercise judgment in appropriate ways in these encounters,” Althaus said.
He said it’ll help community members too, showing them how and when lethal force is used. As well as tracking the race and ethnicity of those involved.
To learn more about the database, visit the Cline Center’s website.