Douglas County Sheriff’s Office unveils data dashboards with statistics on arrests, jail population
photo by: Meeting screenshow/CJCC
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has created new dashboards with local law enforcement data, which officials hope will help increase government transparency.
During a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting on Tuesday, Sheriff Jay Armbrister and county data analyst Matt Cravens unveiled two dashboard tools — one about the county jail and local arrests, and another that focuses specifically on inmates with mental health issues.
The more general dashboard about arrests and the jail includes data about the people who are arrested — including their race and gender — and about the offenses they’re accused of, how long they have stayed in jail and what result the arrest led to, such as charges being dropped or an individual receiving a sentence after conviction.
“This is just another tool in the toolbox,” Armbrister said. “We just want to create something that is sustainable and transparent. Our data within the correctional facility is clearly very useful for us to identify needs or potential problems.”
Cravens said the dashboard was unique because it aggregated all of the data related to those who were arrested in Douglas County. That data already existed, but it was only publicly available for individual cases through the jail booking log.
Some of the initial data in the dashboard shown during the meeting includes the number of arrests in felony and misdemeanor cases. The dashboard indicated that about 5,500 offenses took place in 2020 — nearly 3,400 of those were on suspicion of misdemeanor offenses, while roughly 900 were on suspicion of felony offenses. Another 1,200 were listed as unknown or unavailable.
The dashboard also showed the most common offense leading to arrest between 2017 and 2021 was failure to appear in court — in that time span, more than 9,100 arrests were made on suspicion of failure to appear. The next most common was driving under the influence, with just under 3,000 arrests.
Cravens said the data would be updated either weekly or every two weeks. However, the dashboard is in the early stages of development, and some members of the council said adjustments would likely need to be made.
For instance, County Commissioner Shannon Portillo noted that the categories for race and ethnicity left some races and ethnicities out of the reported data. For instance, the dashboard has a category for “White Hispanic,” but Portillo said it didn’t have a general Latino category. The dashboard also didn’t appear to show data for individuals who were multiracial.
Additionally, Darren Canady, who is a community representative on the council, noted that the gender portion of the dashboard only had two categories, male and female, and did not take into account nonbinary or transgender individuals.
Armbrister said the gender categories were set up that way because of the state’s arrest reporting guidelines for gender, but the county jail keeps information that is more varied than that — it keeps track of how individuals self-identify and houses them in the facility based on their personal identity. Cravens said he would update the dashboard to address those concerns or include a note explaining those details.
Later in the meeting, Cravens also unveiled the dashboard related to mental health data for those who are booked into jail. It shows the percentage of inmates who have been determined to have serious mental illness and how long they are spending in jail. That data is related to the Stepping Up Initiative, a nationwide project that Douglas County joined which aims to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses being booked into jail.
Cravens was also scheduled to show another dashboard about bond information for those who are arrested, but he did not have enough time to present it during the meeting. Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer said that dashboard would be discussed during the council’s next meeting in May. He said the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office was also working on a dashboard for its data.
“They are coming, folks,” Brouwer said of the dashboards. “We are going to flood you with information the best we can.”
The dashboards can be accessed on the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office website, www.dgso.org.
Contact Dylan Lysen
Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact reporter Dylan Lysen: