Before conducting our survey of police department manuals, we identified five basic requirements for accessibility and navigability that we believe foster transparency:
1). Is the policy manual hosted on the official police department website or city government website?
Posting this information online allows the public to understand the policies that govern police behavior, empowering them to be informed participants in the democratic process that shapes those policies.
2). Is the manual posted in its entirety?
If whole policies or even sections have been omitted, rather than sparingly redacted, it unnecessarily limits public knowledge of police policies.
3). Is it possible to search across the entire manual?
This means that the manual includes a function that allows users to search for keywords (i.e. “use of force”) across multiple policies, simultaneously.
4). Does the manual have a clear navigational framework?
Does the manual have navigational options that help the public explore its contents so that all the polices are clearly laid out and the reader can jump between them.
5). Are all policies dated, especially as to their most recent revision?
This tells the public it has the most recent version. Not every policy needs updating, but very old policies may indicate a need for review.