Toledo Police Use of Force Analysis 2015

  In 2015, officer deaths in the United States increased for the second consecutive year. Line of duty deaths increased 4% to a reported 124, up from the 119 deaths reported in 2014. There was also an increase in the shooting deaths of law enforcement officers. There were 42 federal, state, and local officers killed by gunfire in 2015, a decrease from 2014’s figures when 50 were killed.[1]

  Every day, law enforcement officers face danger, while carrying out their responsibilities. When dealing with a dangerous or unpredictable situation, police officers usually have very little time to assess the situation and determine the proper response. Thus, good training can enable the officer to react properly to the threat or possible threat and respond with the appropriate tactics to address the situation, up to and including some level of force, if necessary, given the circumstances.

  The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has stated that when diffusing situations, apprehending alleged criminals, and protecting themselves and others, officers are legally entitled to use appropriate means, including force. 

  Therefore, society has given law enforcement the responsibility to maintain the peace and enforce laws. Consequently, the police are also given the authority to use force, when necessary, to keep society’s mandate. It is critical that the authority is used properly and in accordance with the guidelines provided by society, through laws and the courts. “The legal test of excessive force is…whether the officer reasonably believed that such force was necessary to accomplish a legitimate police purpose…”[2] 

  Society must understand that the appropriate use of force is, at times, necessary to maintain the peace and enforce laws.  Because the community must support the department's response to resistance, it is in the best interest of the police department to use only the level that is reasonable and necessary when responding to resistance.

  The following is a review of the Annual Action-Response Analysis, which is required by CALEA, on an annual basis.  The report was written with a focus on the interpretation of data, analysis of action-response incidents resulting in injuries, and analysis of policy violations. The purpose of this analysis is to provide the chief of police a detailed and accurate report of the action-response incidents being conducted by this agency, as well as, specific recommendations to reduce the personal and financial liability associated with action-response incidents.


Notable Points for 2014

  • In 2015, there were 691 incidents that involved multiple actions/responses by suspects and officers
  • There were 5.48 action/response incidents for every 1,000 arrests, an slight increase from 2014. 
  • The percentage of claimed and apparent injuries to suspects decreased from 35.5% in 2014, to 32.4% in 2015.
  • TASER usage continued to decrease from 54 incidents in 2014, to 42 incidents in 2015. 
  • The use of chemical agents decreased from 37 incidents in 2014, to 18 incidents in 2015.
  • The number of officers injured decreased from 65 in 2014, to 53 in 2015.
  • There were 43 Incidents where officers used Deadly/Lethal options, but all except two of those incidents involved the destruction of either vicious or wounded animals.
 

2015 Action-Response Graphic Analysis






Actions of Subject



Number of Reported Actions







Percentage of Actions Used

Active Resistance w/o Contact

2,412

68.7%

Resistance w/Assault of Officer

547

15.6%

Active Resistance

474

12.6%

Attempting to Disarm Officer

2

1 %

Life-Threatening Weaponless Assault

2

1%

Weapons Used Against Officer or Others

4

1%



  In 2015, there were 3,512 actions by subjects that resulted in a response by Toledo Police Officers.  The majority of subject actions involved resistance with no officer contact, such as Not Responding to Officer Commands, Non-Compliance, or Pulling Away from Officers.  There were 547 reported actions where subjects actively attempted to assault officers by Wrestling with Officers, Pushing Officers, or Kicking Officers.  Of these, Pushing Officer was the most common action used against officers by subjects.  Also, there were 442 actions when subjects offered some type of Active Resistance either physically or verbally.  These actions are not necessarily counted as separate actions, because officers may choose more than one subject action per incident.





Responses of Officer

Number of Reported Responses

Percent of Physical Responses Used











Use of Hands or Feet

2,913  

97.7%









Baton

8        

.2%









Chemical Agents

18      

.6%









TASER

42     

1.4%









Deadly/Lethal Options



.06%











  In 2015, there were 2,983 responses to the actions of a subject that involved some type of physical contact by officers.  This does not include an additional 2,289 responses that involved no physical contact with subjects (i.e. Verbal Commands, Officer Presence, or No Action).  Officers continue to use responses involving the use of hands and feet substantially more often than other responses.  Of these responses, Balance Displacement, Joint Manipulation, and Takedown Techniques were used most often.  There was an additional 41 incidents were officers used department issued firearms to dispatch injured or vicious animals.


  In 2015, there were 53 officers who reported being injured as a result of an action-response incident.  This is a decrease from the number of officers injured in 2014; also, the percentage of officers injured per incident decreased from 9.1% in 2014, to 7.6% in 2015.  Of the 53 reported injuries, three (3) were admitted to a hospital, 28 required no treatment, 12 were treated and released, and 10 were treated at the scene. 


  An additional review of the 15 incidents, where officers were either admitted or treated and released, was conducted to determine if any patterns exist that may be addresses through policy or training changes, in an effort to reduce the number of these injuries in the future.  In eight of these instances the officers were injured while wrestling with the subject or performing a takedown technique.  In three of these instances, the officer sought treatment after exposure to a skin disease or exposure to bodily fluids.  Finally, there were two incidents were officers were injured due to a physical assault by the subject.



Subject Injury

Reported Incidents

Admitted to Hospital

41

Fatality

0

Prior to Officer Intervention

74

Injury Apparent

142

No Treatment Necessary

41

Refused Treatment

29

Treated and Released

59

Treated at Scene

63

TASER Usage

29



  There were 479 responses in 2015 in which 225 subjects involved in Action-Response Incidents were injured or claimed to be injured.  It should be noted that officers can select more than one response, if a subject is injured; so, there may be multiple responses for a single incident.  Of these responses, 74 of the injuries occurred prior to officer intervention.  Of the remaining 405 responses, 99 subjects refused treatment, did not require treatment, were treated for TASER related injuries (treatment is mandatory for each TASER use), or were treated at the scene for minor injuries. There were 100 subjects either treated at local hospitals and released or admitted for further treatment.


2015 Incident Review

   A review of each incident where the subject was either hospitalized or treated and released was conducted during this review.  Below, is a table containing each incident where a subject was hospitalized and the reason for the hospitalization.

 

Reason Subject Hospitalized

Number of Responses

Psychiatric Care

16

Intoxication

5

Overdose

2

Injury Prior to Intervention

12

From Officer Action

4




  In 2015, 90% of the individuals requiring hospitalization were not hospitalized by the actions of Toledo Police Officers.  The remaining seven incidents will be included in the review to follow.


·        2015-AR-00096-Officers were dispatched to a report of a pedestrian struck and the involved vehicle attempting to leave the scene.  Police units located the suspect vehicle and a short pursuit ensued.  The suspect vehicle then struck another pedestrian and a construction fence before coming to a stop.  Two of the pursuing officers exited their vehicle in an effort to arrest the driver, at which time, the driver of the suspect vehicle reversed and turned his vehicle toward the officers.  The suspect then intentionally struck the unmarked police car.  As the officers approached the suspect vehicle, the suspect intentionally struck one of the officers pinning him against the unmarked police car.  The officer and his partner, fearing that the officer’s life was being threatened, discharged several rounds striking the subject and ending the threat.  The suspect was transported to St. Vincent’s by TFD units for life threatening injuries.  The officer struck by the vehicle was also transported to St. Vincent’s for treatment.


  After review, all officers’ actions appear to be within agency policy and it does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.



·        2015-AR-00460-An officer was working an off-duty project at a restaurant within the city limits.  The suspect appeared intoxicated and was antagonizing other patrons.  The suspect was told by the officer to leave the location and refused.  As the officer attempted to escort the suspect from the property the suspect pushed the officer.  The officer responded by successfully using a take-down technique to take the suspect to the ground, but the suspect struck his head on the floor causing a cut to the suspect’s forehead. The suspect was transported to UTMC and admitted for evaluation.   



  After review, all officers’ actions appear to be within agency policy and it does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.



·        2015-AR-00517-Officers were providing extra patrol in an area of the city which recently seen an increase in violent crime and drug activity.  A subject observed he was being watched by officers and immediately started walking away from officers and furtively “digging his hands in his pants.”  As officers attempted to detain the subject, he began to flail his arms and refused to follow the orders of the officers.  A takedown technique was conducted and the subject struck his head on the concrete causing cuts above his right eye and lip.  The suspect was transported to UTMC by TFD for his injuries.



  After review, all officers’ actions appear to be within agency policy and it does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.



·        2015-AR-00540-While on routine patrol officers observed a suspicious male in the parking lot of a carry out.  The suspect was later determined to be shooting heroin.  As officers attempted to place the subject into custody he began to pull away and push the officers.  A takedown maneuver was performed, causing the suspects head to strike the pavement.  The suspect’s earring was pulled from his ear causing a cut.  The suspect was transported and admitted to St. Vincent’s to receive treatment for his injury.

 
  After review, all officers’ actions appear to be within agency policy and it does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.



·        2015-AR-00576-Officers responded to the report of a man with a weapon banging on the callers back door.  As the officers arrived on scene the male fled and officers pursued on foot.  Once officers were able to take the suspect to the ground he tucked his arms under his body and refused the officers orders to show his hands.  After several warnings a police K9 dog was commanded to apprehend the subject.  The K9 grabbed the suspect right arm and was able to pull it out from under the suspect’s body, but the subject did receive several puncture wounds from the K9 bite.  The subject was transported to St. Vincent’s where he was admitted to receive treatment for his injuries.


  After review, all officers’ actions appear to be within agency policy and it does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.


  In addition to a review of incidents involving subject hospitalization, a review of each incident involving a subject being treated and released from a hospital was reviewed. 



Subject Treated and

Released

Number of

Responses

TASER Usage

13

Prior to Intervention

11

Officer Response

35




  There were 59 action-response incidents that resulted in a subject being treated and released from a hospital.  Of the incidents, 24 of the subjects treated and released, were either injured prior to contact with officers or received mandatory treatment after TASER usage.  The remaining 35 incidents were reviewed and all incidents were within departmental policy.  It does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.


  In 2015, black males were listed as subjects in 48% of the action-response reports completed by officers (a 10% decrease from 2013).  White males were the listed as subjects in 24% of the action-response reports, accounting for the second most represented group (an increase of 2% from 2013).  A detailed analysis of arrestee demographics will be completed in the 2014 Bias-Based Analysis.



Unnecessary Use of Physical Control Techniques


  There were 14 occurrences were citizens filed complaints with the Internal Affairs Section against officers in 2015.  After a thorough investigation of each allegation, two investigations remain open (investigation is on-going) and one of those allegations was found sustained and the officer received discipline.  Below is a summary of that incident.



  In the Unnecessary complaint sustained in 2015, the officer was alleged to have struck a prisoner who was handcuffed and being escorted to a patrol vehicle.  The officer was found guilty of “Willful Violation” and “Conduct Unbecoming” and received a 10 day suspension for their actions.


Conclusions

  The above analysis was conducted in an effort to identify several specific topics.  First, are Toledo Police Officers responding to the actions of subjects appropriately?  Specifically, are officers responding with force only when it is necessary and, when force is required, are officers using the appropriate level of force, when compared to the actions of the subjects they arrest?  Second, what can be done to reduce the number of injuries to subjects and officers during these incidents?  Finally, how can the department use policy, training, and discipline to address any issues discovered during this analysis?

   After a review of action-response reports in 2015, it appears that Toledo Police Officers are responding with force in accordance with departmental policy.  Additionally, officers appear to be responding with the appropriate level of force, in response to the action of the subjects they are attempting to arrest.  Furthermore, officers are sufficiently documenting their actions, as well as, the actions of the subjects in their Crime Reports, Supplemental Reports, and Action-Response Reports.  There were no warning shots fired by Toledo Police Officers in 2015.

  The number of officers injured decreased from the 2014 analysis, as well as a slight decrease in the number of subjects who reported injuries. 

  For the second year in a row, the number of subjects involved in action response incidents that required hospitalization for psychiatric, alcohol related, or drug related reasons remained significant.  Additional tracking would be required to determine the actual size of this population. 

  In 2015, several officers attended a Verbal Defense and Influence instructor’s course.  The purpose of this course was to instruct officers on techniques which can be used to deescalate high intensity interactions with subjects.  These instructors will be provided training to all sworn personnel in 2016 in an effort to reduce the number of instances officers will resort to physical contact with subjects suffering from psychiatric problems or as a result of drug and alcohol use. 

  There was one instance where an officer received discipline for unnecessary force in 2015. 

  The number of complaints from citizens decreased from the previous year.

  While there is no explanation for the low number of instances of unnecessary force, there are two possible factors.  First, the review process is inadequate and is failing to indentify instances of unnecessary force.  Second, that the action-response policy, action-response training, and review of action-response reports has proven to be successful in providing officers the necessary tools to make appropriate response decisions.

  Finally, analysis was conducted to determine if any patterns of unnecessary force existed for individual officers.  During this process, data was gathered to determine if there was an excessive amount of action-response incidents or an excessive amount of subject injuries in incidents involving an individual officer.  While there were individual officers responsible for a significant number of action-response incidents, all of the incidents reviewed were found to be within department policy. There were no patterns of unnecessary force, involving individual officers, discovered during this analysis.


Recommendations

  After a review of 2015 action-response data, analysis of incidents resulting in injuries, and analysis of unnecessary force violations, it appears that the action-response policy, training, and review process has been successful in providing officers clear guidelines on the use of force.  However, there are several recommendations that may serve to increase oversight in action-response situations, as well as, reduce the risk of injury (to subjects and officers) and financial liability associated with these incidents.

  The current action-response policy provides clear guidelines for officers in the use of lethal and less-lethal force, guidelines for the treatment of injured subjects, and procedures for the documentation and review of all Action-Response incidents.  However, the department may benefit from an additional review from outside the involved officers chain of command.  This review could coincide with the PARS review in August.

  The next recommendation is predicated on the information obtained during the analysis of incidents involving the hospitalization of subjects. There were a significant number of subjects in action-response incidents suffering from psychiatric events or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  If the departmental Action-Response forms included a box that officers could select if the subject was suffering from a psychiatric event or drug/alcohol issue, then the exact percentage of subjects who fit these categories could be determined.  The department would then be able to better assess the need for training related to these issues. 

  Additionally, the use of less-lethal weapons used by officers against all subjects continues to decrease.  The department did conduct training on the use of secondary weapons in 2015.  It is recommended that the department continue to monitor the used of less lethal weapons to determine if the previous year’s training was effective.


[1] National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund



[2] Data Collection of Police Use of Force

TOLEDO POLICE DEPARTMENT
525 N. ERIE TOLEDO, OH 43604
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