It Matters

It matters what and how people feel about an issue such as treatment at the hands of the police. There are people that feel strongly about the issue on both sides. Very strongly, and with justification. The language used to describe the issue has also been strong. Pervasive, rampant, insidious, in-bedded, over-stated, exaggerated.

Wombat Works builds databases. It’s only one of the things we do, but data drives a lot of things we do. Nonprofits once the home of wonderful feel good stories about their works are now held to a higher standard. Donors and funders now want to know the “outcomes”, what does the data show? Is the nonprofit really changing anything? What is the real problem?

This information isn’t always easy to gather, but collecting information on what is happening can bring insights, and is often required to understand the changes needed and if the proposed solutions are working.

There is a model we use to describe the progression or importance of data; Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom.

We went in search of some data and information on police interactions that led to death. We were surprised and saddened to learn that it doesn’t really exist. In spite of congressional instructions to build a database, the FBI collects this data only on a voluntary basis. Bad data or partial data doesn’t help us.

Lacking in the conversations about this are solutions. Now we know why. How can you discuss solutions if we can’t understand the problem? Wouldn’t we have a better discussion, reach better solutions that are embraced or better understood by more of us, and be better able to gauge the effect of the solutions if we had data on the problem?

Why do we hold nonprofit organizations to a higher standard than our government? Doesn’t it make sense that government should track and report its outcomes? Shouldn’t it have to justify the work it does just like an organization that helps tutor kids?

Lives matter. When any one of them is lost as a result of an interaction with our government we need to understand what happened and why it happened. We have to have some knowledge and some wisdom to help understand what happened, and how we fix it. This starts with the data.

Everyone, including our government, needs to track their data to understand the problem, develop smart solutions, and know the impact of their work!

List of killings by law enforcement officers in the United States
Factcheck: Grim statistics on race and police killings
Hundreds of Police Killings Are Uncounted in Federal Stats

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