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Office of Criminal Justice Services Deaths in Police Custody Reporting

ODPS | Office of Criminal Justice Services

Deaths in Custody Reporting

The Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) is responsible for collecting data on behalf of the Department of Justice with regard to the federal Deaths in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA) of 2013 (Public Law 113-242). This Act requires the reporting of certain data on deaths of individuals who are incarcerated at a municipal or county jail, state prison, state-run boot camp prison, boot camp prison that is contracted out by the state, any state or local contract facility, or other local or state correctional facility (including any juvenile facility).

Deaths that occur in the process of an arrest by state and local law enforcement agencies, also known as an arrest-related death (ARD), are also included. An ARD is defined as any death (e.g., gunshot wound, cardiac arrest, or drowning) that occurs during an interaction with state or local law enforcement personnel, including those that occur:

  • Shortly after freedom to leave is restricted, all deaths that occur shortly after a person's freedom to leave is restricted by state or local law enforcement personnel.
  • During an attempt to arrest or in the process of arrest, all deaths that occur during the interaction with law enforcement personnel.
  • Without any direct action by law enforcement. This would include deaths attributed to suicide, intoxication, accidental injury, medical emergencies or health complications.
  • While in custody (before transfer to jail), all deaths that occur after law enforcement have established physical custody of an arrestee. These in-custody deaths can occur at the scene of the incident, during transport or while the suspect is being held at a law enforcement facility.

It should be noted that not all deaths that occur during an interaction with state or local law enforcement personnel are reported to the ARD program, and they include:

  • Deaths of bystanders, hostages and law enforcement personnel.
  • Deaths of wanted criminal suspects before police contact. If a death occurred before law enforcement interaction of a wanted criminal suspect, it is not within the scope of the ARD program.
  • Deaths by vehicular pursuits without any direct police action. If law enforcement did not take direct action against the subject or their vehicle, these deaths are excluded from the ARD program. These types of incidents require that law enforcement take some kind of direct action against the subject. Direct action would include shooting at the subject's vehicle, ramming it, or otherwise forcing the vehicle to stop or leave the road (e.g., roadblocks or spike strips). When law enforcement take direct action against the subject, only then is it reportable to the ARD program.
  • Deaths of individuals who are detained, under arrest, or are in the process of being arrested by a federal law enforcement officer (or by any state or local law enforcement officer while participating in and for purposes of a federal law enforcement agency) are reportable by the head of that federal law enforcement agency, not by the State.

The U.S. Department of Justice (Bureau of Justice Administration) collects and maintains the data nationally, and has directed states to report cases quarterly. OCJS is asking that all corrections, community corrections, county coroner's and medical examiners, prosecuting attorneys and members of law enforcement to provide basic identifying information on any cases they suspect fit the definition.

Click here for more details on the Death in Custody Reporting Act.

If you have any questions, please email Anjolie Harland or call 614-466-9028.

Arrest Related Deaths