U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Contacts Between Police and the Public, 2020

NCJ Number
Susannah N. Tapp; Elizabeth J. Davis
Date Published
November 2022
25 pages

This report is part of a series that began in 1996 and examines the nature and frequency of contact with police as reported by U.S. residents, including demographic characteristics, types of contact, and perceptions of police misconduct, threats of force, or use of nonfatal force. Contact with police includes instances where U.S. residents contacted police, where police approached or stopped residents (police-initiated contacts), and where a traffic accident was involved. The report presents findings on the types of contacts U.S. residents had with police and the demographic characteristics of those who had contact. It also provides data on U.S. resident-reported use of force during the contact and on enforcement actions.


  • About 21% (53.8 million) of U.S. residents age 16 or older had contact with police in 2020.
  • A smaller share of persons had contact with police in 2020 (21%) than in 2018 (24%).
  • In 2020, females (12%) were more likely than males (11%) to initiate contact with police, while males (11%) were more likely than females (9%) to experience police-initiated contact.
  • Among U.S. residents who initiated their most recent contact with police, almost half (49%) did so to report a possible crime.