Transparency Matters Report

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Overview of Report

In July 2020, the CSPD proactively sought proposals from qualified firms/consultants to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the police department’s use of force. The requirements for the scope of work included:

  • Vendor will conduct a comprehensive analysis of CSPD use of force, to include demographic data.
  • Vendor will use scientifically valid methods to determine whether and to what extent CSPD use of force data reflects disparities among various demographic categories.
  • Vendor will compare CSPD’s use of force data to similarly situated cities as one benchmark to provide context to the study.
  • Vendor will identify possible reasons for any disparities that are found, grounded in extant research.
  • Vendor will make recommendations for future data collection and research methodology that could be used by CSPD to help clarify reasons for any disparities in force that are found.
  • Vendor will provide scientifically valid recommendations on reducing disparities in police use force, which may include community recommendations and police recommendations.
  • Vendor will conduct a presentation in a public forum in Colorado Springs on the findings.

While the department already performs an analysis every year on use of force as part of our CALEA accreditation, the department took it a step further to self-initiate this review from an outside party. 

In January 2021, the CSPD entered into a contract with Transparency Matters, LLC, to conduct this study.

Then Chief Vince Niski said, “We believe there is a lot of benefit in bringing in outside experts to provide a transparent, fair, and thorough analysis. Additionally, we believe that we must engage in sophisticated analyses to get a clear and true understanding of use of force. In order to do that, we need experts in their field who can correctly analyze complicated data. And having outside expertise paves the way for true and impartial analysis for both the department and our community… I'm confident we have chosen some of the country's best experts to do this work, and I am excited to work alongside them through this project.”

Now after many months of analytical review, Transparency Matters, LLC has completed their study. Now Chief Adrian Vasquez says, “It has been a great privilege to work with Transparency Matters, LLC, as they are leading experts in their field and I deeply value everything they have done for both the Colorado Springs Police Department and our community. I am committed to transparency, which is why we are releasing the report within just days of us receiving it ourselves.”


About Transparency Matters, LLC

Transparency Matters, LLC (TM) is an independent law enforcement consultant focused on building transparent policing policies and processes that enhance public trust. 

To learn more, please visit their website:

To learn more about those who conducted this study, please see their bios below:

John R. “Rick” Brown 

John R. “Rick” Brown is a former Lieutenant Colonel and first Deputy Commissioner of Professional Responsibility in Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) history. During his over 29-year career, Brown was appointed by the Pennsylvania Governor to oversee the PSP’s reform and accountability efforts in the areas of misconduct, sexual harassment, use of force, and early intervention/risk management initiatives. He developed the PSP’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office’s statewide liaison program and had oversight of citizen complaints that alleged bias, discrimination, or disparate treatment. Brown also oversaw the PSP’s five-year Police-Citizen Contact Project, which utilized applied research techniques to assess the extent to which PSP officers engaged in racial or biased-based policing. He subsequently oversaw the implementation of proactive training and operational strategies to monitor and prevent racial profiling. Brown received Certificates of Recognition/Appreciation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Office of Inspector General and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for leading positive change in the implementation and administration of accountability measures and for outstanding contributions toward the professionalization of Law Enforcement. Brown also received the Pennsylvania State Police, Medal of Commendation (Department’s 2nd Highest Award), for selfless sacrifice and extraordinary service in protecting the image, integrity, and reputation of the Department. In 2010, following a distinguished career in law enforcement, Brown created Transparency Matters, LLC, a business that focuses on building transparent policing policies and process change that provides organizational efficiencies, accountability, diversity, community education, training, and monitoring. Brown was selected to work as an expert with independent monitoring teams with the Detroit, Michigan Police Department, Oakland, California Police Department, Niagara Falls, New York Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Phoenix, AZ, and currently the Aurora Police Department, Aurora, CO.  He was also a member of the United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) pattern and practice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department prior to the issuance of the Department’s current federal Consent Decree.  He currently is a lead Subject Matter Expert, Subcontractor for Kroll Associates, Inc., New York, NY, to Investigate and Audit Discrimination and/or Racism and use of force in the Austin Texas Police Department.

Robin S. Engel

Robin S. Engel, Ph.D. is Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the IACP/ UC Center for Police Research and Policy at the University of Cincinnati. She engages in police research and evaluations designed to reduce harm in communities and make police-citizen encounters safer, promoting best practices through academic-practitioner partnerships. Dr. Engel has served as Principal Investigator for over eighty research grants, totaling over twenty-five million dollars, and has published over sixty research articles, books, and chapters, along with dozens of technical reports for practitioners. She has previously been ranked among the top academics, and the number one female in the field of criminal justice/criminology based on publications in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. Her work on community violence reduction resulted in several prominent team awards including the 2008 IACP/Motorola Webber Seavey Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement, the 2009 IACP/West Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations, and the 2008 National Criminal Justice Association’s Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award. Dr. Engel has conducted statistical analyses examining racial/ethnic disparities in policing outcomes for over a dozen jurisdictions. She has served as an expert on policing and violence reduction for panels convened at the White House and 10 Downing Street. In 2017 Dr. Engel was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Albany, and in 2022, the O.W. Wilson Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. She currently serves as a governor-appointed member of the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, and as the co-chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Research Advisory Committee. She is a consultant on police training for the Ohio Attorney General, and serves as a member of the National Police Initiative’s Council on Policing Reforms and Race. 

Jon D. Kurtz

Jon D. Kurtz, Senior Consultant, is a former/retired Lieutenant Colonel and Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the Pennsylvania State Police. Over a nearly twenty-seven-year career, he served in various areas of the state in patrol, criminal investigation, vice, and administrative capacities. During his tenure as Deputy Commissioner of Staff, LTC Kurtz administered an $850 million budget, oversaw the agency’s technology and communications functions, directed state-wide laboratory services, developed department-wide standards and policies, and managed the department’s research and development efforts, to include accreditation. While serving in the field, LTC Kurtz oversaw the criminal investigative and undercover functions of the department while assigned as the director of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He also served as the commander of the eleven-hundred members of Area I, and commander of the four hundred members of Troop H, Harrisburg. LTC Kurtz’s contributions to noteworthy events include the State Correctional Institution, Camp Hill, PA Prison Riots, creation of the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC) and Watch Center, Pittsburgh G-20 Summit, and command of the 2006 Amish School Shooting in Lancaster County. Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Kurtz is a nationally recognized speaker on the topic of school violence. 

Dr. Jennifer Calnon Cherkauskas

Dr. Jennifer Calnon Cherkauskas is a senior research associate at the University of Cincinnati Center for Police Research and Policy. She holds a doctorate in Crime, Law, and Justice from The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Cherkauskas currently works with police agencies across the country as part of multiple research projects that are examining police use of force, traffic stops disparities, and violence reduction. She spent three years as the project manager and liaison to the external monitor for the University of Cincinnati Police Division’s voluntary reform agenda. Over the last twenty years, she has served as project manager for research projects with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Arizona Department of Public Safety and supported projects with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Nebraska State Patrol, and the Tulsa Police Department. She has published articles in Justice Quarterly, Journal of Crime and Justice, Police Quarterly, and Policing. 

Dr. Nicholas Corsaro

Dr. Nicholas Corsaro is a consultant and serves as Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati. He holds a PhD in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University. He has published over 30 articles on police interventions, strategies, and organizational processes.


Timeline of Study




Early 2019

Command Staff discusses hiring an outside consultant to conduct a use of force study


July 2020

Request for Proposal (RFP) for the use of force study is issued


August 2020

City receives six proposals


September 2020

RFP Committee is fashioned to review proposals

Note: Committee makeup – CSPD Commander, CSPD Civilian Manager, PPA Board member, Member of the Colorado Springs Community, UCCS Professor

October 2020

RFP Committee selects Transparency Matters

PDF: Transparency Matters RFP

December 2020

The final contract and order to proceed is signed


January 2021

CSPD announces contract with Transparency Matters

PDF: Announcement Press Release

January 2021 (through February 2022)

Data transfer begins (use of force data, officer demographics, arrest data, etc.)

Link: CSPD Data Hub

Link: All CSPD Policies

Link: CSPD Use of Force Specific Policies (see below)

May 2021

Community Use of Force Survey is made available electronically and in hard copy formats

PDF: Community Survey (coming soon...)

PDF: Community Survey Press Release

PDF: Community Survey Poster

June 2021

Community Survey closed


July 2021

BWC footage and associated cases and use of force reports were shared with the Transparency Matters team to analyze a sampling Pointing of Firearm incidents.  


July 2021

Transparency Matters team hosts focus groups

  • Sworn officers
  • Sworn sergeants
  • Community group
  • PPA Board members

December 2021

Officer Survey conducted


March 2022

CSPD received and reviewed the draft report, allowing CSPD and Transparency Matters, LLC to discuss areas for clarification


April 22, 2022

CSPD received the final report from Transparency Matters, LLC

PDF: Final Report (including Executive Summary)

April 26, 2022

CSPD and Transparency Matters, LLC conduct public presentation of findings

Note: See video below for full presentation 

PDF: Powerpoint shown during presentation

June 2022 2022 Quarter 2 update PDF: Quarter 2 Updates
January 2023 July 2022 through January 2023 Updates PDF: July 22 - January 23 Updates


Video of Community Presentation

Video of City Council Presentation

Study Findings


Recommendations to CSPD from Study

CSPD Response

CSPD is carefully reviewing the entire report in-depth. Chief Vasquez chose to release all this information to the public soon after receiving the final report, so CSPD does not yet have detailed responses for every recommendation. Chief Vasquez is committed to a thoughtful response to each recommendation, one that considers both internal and external input.  There are some recommendations, such as better data collection on pointing firearms, that could be implemented quickly. Other recommendations, such as conducting an audit of CSPD use of force training, will take more time. This website will be updated as appropriate to reflect steps CSPD has taken in that quarter to address the recommendations.


  1. Enhance agency culture that emphasizes, reinforces, and rewards the use of de-escalation tactics and skills by officers through systematic documentation, continual reinforcement of policies and training, and development of accountability and oversight mechanisms.
  2. Continue the processes established for the CSPD’s Use of Force Committee for comprehensive and routine reviews and updates to policy and communicate this work internally and externally.
  3. Review and update the documentation, policy, training, and supervisory oversight related to the pointing of firearms at a person.
  4. Conduct an independent audit of CSPD use of force training to ensure content, quality, and duration of use of force training is meeting industry best practices.
  5. Enhance transparency through the timely release of information to the community to improve public confidence and trust.
  6. Continue to enhance supervision, accountability & oversight related to use of force.
  7. Review and make appropriate changes to use of force data collection to meet best practices.
  8. Work internally and externally to continually reduce racial/ethnic disparities in use of force. Continue to work internally and externally to continually monitor and reduce racial/ethnic disparities in use of force. 


Common Q&A

What research questions does the study address?

Q: What research questions does the study address?
A: After Transparency Matters, LLC was awarded the contract, they worked with CSPD to refine the research questions the study would address. The resulting research questions were:

  • What factors contribute to the use (and severity) of force by CSPD officers?
  • How does CSPD use of force policy and training compare to similarly situated (i.e., peer) cities? 
  • Does the rate and severity of force align with racial/ethnic groups’ representation at risk for having force used against them by police? 
  • What are possible explanations for any disparities found in police use and severity of force?
  • What factors contribute to the likelihood of officer and citizen injuries? 
  • How do community members perceive use of force and police-community relations?
  • How do CSPD officers perceive use of force and police-community relations?
  • What improvements should be made to CSPD’s use of force policies, training, and data collection and analysis to meet current best practices? 

How did the researchers come to their conclusions? 

Q: How did the researchers come to their conclusions? 
A: The Transparency Matters research team conducted a comprehensive and independent assessment of CSPD's use of force using policies; practices; official data; pointing firearm reports, case reports, and video; and data collected from community members and CSPD officers. 

They used a lot of different kinds of statistical tests on official CSPD data to give the fullest picture of officers' use of force and pointing of firearms. We cannot explain these methods better than they did. We are confident in their very comprehensive analysis of CSPD data.

How does CSPD compare to other agencies in how often officers use force and any disparities? 

Q: How does CSPD compare to other agencies in how often officers use force and any disparities? 
A: The experts said that type of comparison is not valid for several reasons. They compared our policies to best practice standards and peer agencies, but did not compare our force data. 

What did they find in the policy comparison? 

Q: What did they find in the policy comparison? 
A: The experts said CSPD is a leader among its peers in these areas:

  • Rather than having a single use of force policy, CSPD has separate policies for the authorization of force, use of specific weapons, documentation of force, training, supervisory review, and investigations
  • Rather than using a "use of force continuum," CSPD uses the Critical Decision-Making Model
  • CSPD strictly prohibits the use of chokeholds

They found CSPD aligns with best practices standards and its peers on several key areas:

  • Requiring use of de-escalation techniques, when possible
  •  Verbal warning before deadly force
  • Rendering of first aid
  • Duty to intervene in excessive force

They found CSPD can improve to meet best practices by publicly issuing a use of force report annually. They did note, however, that making their report available to the public represents CSPD's recognition of the importance of transparency and building community trust. CSPD plans to implement this recommendation in 2022. 

What did they find from the data analyses? 

Q: What did they find from the data analyses? 
A: Because the study was so comprehensive and used such complex statistical methods, we encourage people to review the results as explained by the experts in the report. We won't try to cover all the information in this answer. Some people may find the results in the Executive Summary to be enough information; others will want to have more information, but not every detail, found in the "Section Summary;" and people with an interest in all the nuances of the statistics and results may want to review all the details in the report. We have made the entire report available to the public to allow people to review it at whatever level they choose. 

Are there racial/ethnic disparities in use of force? 

Q: Are there racial/ethnic disparities in use of force? 
A:  The report contains a lot of information and detail on this topic, as requested by CSPD when we first developed the scope of work. One fact this study demonstrates is that answering this question is complicated, and requires looking at data a number of different ways, using different statistical models. CSPD encourages people with an interest in the detailed answer to this question to review all related information in the report. There is much more data in the report than what we will highlight here--what we are highlighting here are citywide results the experts tell us are the most valid. 
Using the benchmarks the experts recommend, we learned that citywide, there were very minor or no racial/ethnic disparities in use of force for both Black and Hispanic individuals compared to White individuals. This finding was similar for pointing a firearm incidents involving Black individuals. For Hispanic individuals, the disparity in pointing a firearm was moderate. 



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