At last year’s American Political Science Association conference I was asked to participate on a panel about Ferguson. Christian Davenport noted something I’d never thought about before. Almost every other advanced industrial nation keeps track of how many bullets the police fire.

When the Baltimore City Paper asked me for a 2015 resolution that would make the city better, I took that idea and expanded on it.

Over the past several decades we’ve become obsessed with metrics. How do we know how well our public schools are doing? Average test scores. How do we compare colleges to one another? Average SAT scores. How did some people know the Orioles were doomed against the Royals before they even took the field? Wins Above Replacement. How do we know how effective the police are at doing their job? Crime stats. How do we know Baltimore has a democracy problem? Local turnout rates.

We now routinely use metrics of one sort or another to measure everything from worker productivity to school quality to how often the 22 bus should run.

But there are institutions where we don’t use them enough. Take the police. We know how many people the Baltimore City Police Department employs (about 4,000). We know how many crimes are committed within a given neighborhood down to a quarter of a mile. Through investigative reporting we know how much money they’ve paid out in police brutality cases (approximately $6 million). 

The rest here.