In 2003, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) developed the Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program to collect data on deaths that occur during the process of arrest or attempt to obtain custody by a state or local law enforcement agency (LEA) in the United States. BJS suspended the ARD program in and redesigned the ARD program and began a pilot test of the new methodology in 2015. The revised methodology included two phases designed to increase the reliability, validity, and comprehensiveness of the data collection. In the first phase, BJS conducted a broad but standardized review of media articles to identify potential arrest-related deaths. In the second phase, on which this paper reports, BJS surveyed LEAs and medical examiner offices to further test the ARD program redesign methodology.
Overall, the redesign produced significant improvements in data completeness and quality compared to the previous ARD program methodology. Limitations and outstanding questions remain related to agency response rates and the utility of randomly sampling LEAs not associated with a media-identified death.