Open Data Visualized from Police Spreadsheets: A Case of Where Force, Race, and Place Collided

21 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by JKevin Byrne

JKevin Byrne

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Date Written: January 29, 2021


This research note is a case study that called into question police conduct and policy injustice discovered in two American big cities. The path to learn about Indianapolis (IN) and Baltimore (MD) policing patterns and crime events was due to availability of detailed data that focused on use-of-force. A specific goal was to conduct geospatial data analysis aimed at these two cities using location, force, and race as variables. A modest sampling of open data permitted statistical groundwork for iterations of a powerful method known as exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA). Bivariate scatterplots revealed possible police misconduct. Parallel coordinate plotting – an innovative multivariate tool – was then used to plot use-of-force and racial variables associated with key police districts in Indianapolis and Baltimore. Even “small data” can surprise if they are supported by descriptive statistics along with detailed visualizations that cartographically and dramatically compared force and race variables by way of co-occurring plots, graphs, and maps. Action items suggested were 1) a “social-justice” framework for future data-visualization, 2) significant heightening of standards for law enforcement reform, and 3) a compelling need to make a hypothetical “citizen’s arrest” of any future police misconduct. A conclusion offered a four-part model whereby this research report was situated within the mission, purpose, and founders’ values of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) in the specific context of EDRA 52.

Keywords: ESDA, geovisualization, open data, police misconduct, U.S. cities

JEL Classification: C30, C39, Y10, Y92

Suggested Citation

Byrne, JKevin, Open Data Visualized from Police Spreadsheets: A Case of Where Force, Race, and Place Collided (January 29, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

JKevin Byrne (Contact Author)

Minneapolis College of Art and Design ( email )

2501 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
United States
55404 (Fax)

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