Toledo Police Use of Force Analysis 2016

    The number of United States police officers killed in the line of duty hit a five-year high in 2016, with more ambush-style attacks than in the past two decades. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 135 police fatalities occurred in 2016, a 10% increase from 2015. The increase in numbers of police fatalities comes at a time when police-community relations remain low.

    Toledo Police Officers are permitted to use only physical control techniques that are objectively reasonable, in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, to accomplish lawful objectives. The Toledo Police Department and its members follow the guidelines set forth by the United States Supreme Court rulings in Graham v. Conner and Tennessee v. Garner.

    The following is a review of the Annual Action-Response Analysis, which is a standard required by CALEA. When an officer uses physical control techniques to take a subject into custody, to contain a situation, affect an arrest, or protect persons or property, that is beyond the mere taking control of a subject, it must be documented. This analysis thoroughly reviews all related documents to make sure that officers are responding with the proper use of physical control techniques. The analysis is necessary to help identify policy changes that may be needed, identify knowledge and application deficiencies, and direct training development. This analysis is also used to track Action-Response trends that might be occurring, and help find ways to enhance officer and public safety.


Notable Points for 2016

  • In 2016, there were 677 incidents that involved an action/response from officers, compared with 691 incidents in 2015.
  • There were 6.06 action/response incidents for every 1,000 arrests that resulted in bookings into Lucas County Corrections Center. This is a slight increase from 2015, which was 5.48. The number of bookings does not include the subjects who were arrested through the issuance of a summons or given an All Purpose Citation (APC), which would lower that number to 2.93 per 1,000 arrests.
  • The Toledo Police Department responded to 273,888 total incidents in 2016 making Action-Response incidents less than 0.25% of the total incidents. The total incident count includes self initiated activity, such as traffic stops and subject stops, but it is not a total of officer-to-citizen contacts which would be much larger.
  • TASER usage increased from 42 incidents in 2015 to 58 incidents in 2016. Two of the incidents involved a dog. Seven usages were documented as a warning or missed the subject entirely, leaving a total of 49 subjects who were Tasered in 2016.
  • The use of chemical agents increased from 18 incidents in 2015, to 28 incidents in 2016. This increase is largely contributed to the use of the pepper ball gun which accounted for 19 of the 28 incidents.
  • The number of officers injured increased from 53 in 2015 to 73 officers injured in 2016.
  • In 2016, 30 incidents occurred where officers used Deadly/Lethal options; all except one incident involved the dispatch of either vicious or wounded animals. This number is down from 43 in 2015. The single incident where an officer did use deadly force against a subject this year will be reviewed later in this report. It is important to note that in 2016 no warning shots were fired by a Toledo Police Officer.


2016 Action-Response Graphic Analysis, Subjects



 

    The chart above illustrates the different actions that subjects used to resist officers. There were a total of 629 incidents where a subject used some type of force to resist. This number was derived by deducting the following incidents from the total amount of Action-Response forms completed; incidents that involved the euthanization of injured or vicious animals, and incidents in which a pepper ball gun was deployed into a crowd and no injuries or arrest occurred. Actions of the subject are categorized above. These categories demonstrate the threat levels from the highest to the lowest. It is important to note that every incident may involve numerous actions. The subject’s actions can range from not responding to an officer’s verbal commands to using weapons against the officer. The majority of subject actions were categorized as follows:

·        Wrestling with Officer
·        Pushing Away From Officer
·        Active Resistance – Verbal / Physical
·        Spitting at an Officer

In addition to those actions above, there were 91 cases where the subject’s actions were categorized as “Striking, Kicking, or Biting an Officer” and another 14 times that the subject attempted to use “Weapons Against the Officer or Others”, “Attempted to Disarm the Officer”, or there was a “Life-Threatening Weaponless Assault” on the officer.


2016 Action-Response Graphic Analysis, Officers

 

 

   The above chart illustrates the different physical control techniques officers reported using in response to the subject’s actions in the same 629 incidents. These action responses are categorized above, ranging from the highest to lowest level of physical control. The officers actions are usually numerous, starting with verbal commands and escalating as needed. Data from the submitted Action-Response forms demonstrates that the majority of responses involved some type of physical contact by officers. Of those, “Joint Manipulation, Stun Techniques and Takedown Techniques” were utilized most often by officers.



 

    

    In 2016, there were 73 officers who reported injuries, as a result of an action-response incident. That number is 20 more than occurred in 2015, and is higher than that reported in the previous five years. Of the 73 reported injuries to officers, 18 were treated and released, seven were treated at the scene, and 48 required no treatment. The most serious injury sustained by an officer in 2016 is highlighted below.


2016-AR-00143 – Officers responded to a call to check the safety of a female subject. The male caller expressed concern for a female’s safety and was going to meet crews in front of location. It should be noted that there was a premise history associated with this address that stated a known male often makes false 9-1-1 calls. When officers arrived on scene, the caller was not present and the female subject was fine. The crew decided to check on the caller, who lived around the block, and had warrants for his arrest. When crews got close to his location, they witnessed the subject get into his car. Officers approached the vehicle and asked the subject his name. The male refused to answer any questions or follow commands to turn off the vehicle and exit the car. Officers then attempted to escort the subject out of the vehicle. At that time, the subject gripped the steering wheel with both hands and refused to move. One officer then attempted to grab the subject’s right shoulder when the subject threw his hand back, pinning the officer’s arm between the door frame and the subject’s head. The officer stated to his partner that his arm was broken and his partner took over trying to gain control of the subject. The officers finally got the subject out of the vehicle, although, he continued to fight. After several more unsuccessful attempts to control the subject, officers resorted to the TASER to gain compliance. The officer was treated and released at St. Vincent’s hospital for a broken arm. The subject was treated for exposure to the TASER, per policy, and booked into Lucas County Corrections Center.

 

 

    Out of the 629 action/response incidents reported, 236 subjects were injured or claimed to be injured. Forty-two percent of those injuries occurred prior to the officer’s intervention. These injuries include self-inflicted injuries, such as suicide attempts or ingesting drugs, injuries caused by an automobile accident, or injuries from a prior assault or fight. Also included in this category was anyone who was hospitalized for psychiatric reasons. 

    In 2016, there were 49 people who were either treated at the scene, or treated and released from the hospital for TASER usage. The Toledo Police Department mandates that a subject be cleared by personnel in a medical facility, after being exposed to a TASER. 

    Fifteen percent of the subjects injured, did not require medical treatment. Another 9% received medical treatment but were treated and released. Of those receiving medical treatment, 3% of the incidents were the result of canine deployments and the subjects sustained some type of minor injury. Three percent of subjects were admitted to the hospital for their injuries. In the majority of these incidents, the subjects were admitted for observation only. The incidents are reviewed below.

 

2016 Incident Review

2016-AR-00018 - Officers were dispatched to a call of man walking down the street arguing with someone on the phone. He was overheard saying “I’m going to come back there with a gun and shoot someone.” The crew arrived on scene and found the man matching the description. Officers pulled up behind the man, exited the vehicle, and asked him to remove his hands from his pockets. The subject then stated “I’ve got a gun and a knife.” Officers took a step back and drew their weapons, while continuing to order the subject to show his hands. The subject then stated “Shoot me in the head.” After several more commands, the subject put his hands in the air while holding the knife. At that time, the subject started to lower his arm, and the gun slid out of his sweatshirt. Fumbling with the gun and the knife, the subject ended up dropping both weapons. Officers used this time to tackle the subject to the ground. Once on the ground, the subject refused to place his hands behind his back. Officers performed several open handed stuns to his shoulder area in order to gain compliance. The subject was transported to St. Vincent’s hospital for evaluation.

     After review, it has been determined that all officers’ actions were within agency policy. It does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.


2016-AR-00139 - Officers were dispatched to a male and female fighting. When they arrived, officers identified the female caller, who resides at the location. It was soon determined that the couple was fighting about a phone. The female asked the male to leave, but he refused. When officers entered the house, they asked the male subject for his identification. The male repeatedly refused to provide his identification. The subject then attempted to walk out of the house, at which time the officer attempted to grab the subject’s arm, and the subject began to resist the officer. It took three officers to finally gain control of the subject, who sustained injuries to his nose when officers performed a takedown technique. The subject was transported to UTMC, where he was admitted for further evaluation. At the hospital, he complained of a neck injury.

     After review, it has been determined that all officers’ actions were within agency policy. It does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.

 

2016-AR-00183 – Officers stopped a vehicle for a traffic offense. When the officers approached the vehicle, the subject provided them with another person’s identification and rolled up his window. The subject proceeded to snort heroin that was contained in a syringe. Units had to break the window of the driver’s rear door to gain entry into the vehicle, where the subject was still in possession of the syringe. Officers used an open hand stun technique to obtain compliance. The subject complained that his back was hurt when he was extracted from his vehicle. The subject was transported to St. Vincent’s hospital for observation.

    After review, it has been determined that all officers’ actions were within agency policy. It does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome


2016-AR-00249 - Officers approached a group of males, who were loitering inside the doorway of an apartment complex. As officers were approaching, they noticed one male reaching into his waistband, possibly securing a firearm. As officers got closer and advised the group not to move, the males began running. The officers then witnessed the male subject, who was reaching in his waistband, pull out a gun. Officers were led on a short foot pursuit before the subject, with gun still in hand, was taken to the ground by the officers. The subject then dropped the loaded firearm next to his body and the subject began to resist officer control. Once the subject was handcuffed, it was determined that he had sustained an injury to his head when the takedown technique was utilized. The subject was transported to St. Vincent’s hospital where he received stitches. 

     After review, it has been determined that all officers’ actions were within agency policy. It does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.


2016-AR-00526 - While on routine patrol, an officer observed a suspicious male in the parking lot of a grocery store. As the officer approached the vehicle, he witnessed the subject preparing to inject heroin. The officer made his presence known by verbalizing commands to the subject. At first, the subject refused to comply, but after a few minutes, he exited the vehicle. The officer was able to apply one handcuff to the subject, but the subject began to pull away and push the officer. A takedown technique was successfully performed, and the subject was taken into custody. Once in custody, he complained that his head struck the vehicle, during the takedown procedure. The subject was transported to Toledo Hospital for evaluation.

     After review, it has been determined that all officers’ actions were within agency policy. It does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.


2016-AR-00682 – While working an off-duty project, a detective was flagged down for a theft in progress. The detective witnessed the subject exit the store with unpaid merchandise. After numerous commands to stop, the subject began throwing the merchandise on the ground, while continuing towards his vehicle. As the detective attempted to place the subject under arrest, he began to hit and push the detective. The subject punched the detective several times in the chest. The detective performed several stun techniques to the subject’s forearm. Despite the stuns, he managed to get his vehicle in gear and accelerate it, momentarily dragging the detective. After a few minutes, the subject was stopped by responding crews. He was taken into custody, without further incident. The subject then began complaining that he was having chest pains and was transported to UTMC for evaluation.

     After review, it has been determined that all officers’ actions were within agency policy. It does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.


2016-AR-00683 – While working an off-duty project at the Classic Lounge Bar, officers heard three to four distinct gunshots, and then witnessed patrons fleeing the bar. The officers observed both the victim and the subject exit the building. They then witnessed the subject point a firearm and discharge a shot at the victim. The officer approached the incident shouting commands, as he got closer, the victim stated he had been shot, and the subject fled on foot. The officer fired several shots, as he pursued the subject, who continued to flee. Fearing that the subject was going to return to where the victim was located, the officer reversed his course to ensure the victims safety. As the officer was securing medical assistance and tending to the victim’s injuries, he saw the subject again, and ordered him to stop. The officer proceeded toward the subject, who then fled on foot. The subject then turned on an angle and pointed the firearm at the officer. The officer then discharged his firearm at the subject, who fell to the ground, still refusing to let go of the firearm. As the officer approached the subject, ordering him to release the firearm, the subject turned toward the officer, causing the officer to fire again. At that time, other officers began approaching the scene and the subject tossed the firearm. Both the subject and the victim were transported to the hospital. The victim succumbed to his injuries, and the subject was later charged with aggravated murder.

     After review, it has been determined that all officers’ actions were within agency policy. It does not appear that a change in policy or training would have produced a different outcome.

 

Unnecessary Use of Physical Control Techniques

     There were nine occurrences where citizens filed complaints with the Internal Affairs Section against officers in 2016, for unnecessary use of physical control techniques. After a thorough investigation of each allegation, it was found that two cases were exonerated and five were non-sustained. Two investigations remain open, due to ongoing investigations and will be included in next year’s analysis.

 

Conclusions   

    The decision to use physical control is one that officers have to make often and, in many cases, in a matter of seconds. The purpose of this analysis is to review the levels of force that are occurring against officers, as well as, the amount of force that officers are using against subjects. It is important to remember that some of the most useful training that we can hold is training in de-escalation techniques. Controlling a situation without using force is always the desired outcome.

    The number of Action–Response forms completed by Toledo Police Officers decreased slightly from 2015, making this the fourth consecutive year that it has decreased. There were also no complaints that were sustained, through Internal Affairs, regarding an officer’s use of physical control techniques. 

     Comparatively, the data shows that officers used less force in response to the force used by subjects. While this is the preferred trend, it is important to note that more officers sustained injuries in 2016, when compared to 2015. The question is, “Is the higher percentage of injury, caused from the officers trying to respond with a lesser degree of force?” It is a possibility, officers are suffering more injuries while attempting to use less force than is authorized, given the anti-police climate in which our officers are working. 

     While we had more officers injured than the prior year, it is important to note that none were admitted to the hospital as a result of their sustained injuries. With regard to the suspects, only 3% of subjects were admitted to the hospital, and an overwhelming number of those were admitted for observation. Most of the data confirms that we are headed in the right direction, when it comes to the use of physical control techniques. Therefore, it is recommended that the department continue to train officers on the techniques used for de-escalation.

     In 2016, The Toledo Police Department saw an increase in both the deployment of the TASER and the pepper ball gun. Officers often utilize their hands and feet more than their tools, such as mace and the TASER with subjects, which can increase the chances of injury to both the subject and the officer. Using tools that allow an officer to keep distance from the subject can be helpful in minimizing injuries. The pepper ball gun is an effective tool at dispersing a large crowd. The device is only utilized by command officers and members of the SWAT team. In 2016, there were no injuries that occurred with the use of the pepper ball gun, which makes it a good choice, both for the officers and the public, when trying to disperse a large crowd.

     The use of body cameras and in-car video systems works as a great tool for supervisors to review physical control incidents by officers. In many cases, video evidence can assist in determining if the actions taken by officers were justified and proper. It also allows for a more accurate depiction of what actually occurred. This results in more accountability and greater transparency. Video evidence can also serve as a great training tool for officers. The videos can show officers what to do as well as what not to do.


Recommendations 

     Training on physical control techniques is critical and is something we should continue, regularly. Holding training on verbal de-escalation is just as important. Although not always possible, officers’ handling an incident, without resorting to physical control techniques, is always the preferred route. Allowing officers the time to de-escalate a situation, and giving them the proper training for this to occur, should be a top priority for law enforcement agencies. There are some situations that will require an immediate response, and de-escalation is not a tool that officers have an option of using; therefore, training should be held for both types of situations. 

     Training should be all encompassing. All training on physical control techniques should start with de-escalation and increase as needed. In the past, officers have participated in separate training exercises on different days respectively for TASER training, de-escalation training, and the use of physical control techniques. Rather than continuing with this type of format, it is recommended that a one day scenario based course be offered. This would better prepare officers to respond to varying levels of force they may encounter in real life situations. This may not always be practical with time and budget constraints, but should be what our department strives for. Allowing the officers time to think and decide what tool they should move to next is important to the decision making process. There should be a focus on officers giving loud verbal commands to the subject. This not only allows for less confusion in regards to the incident, but also allows for better witnesses and a better legal foundation for criminal charges. 

     Another recommendation is to have training that involves multiple officers securing one subject. When officers come into contact with a difficult subject, they should attempt de-escalation techniques and call for backup, if possible. Officers are not always available to assist each other, but when they are, they can be a great asset. Sometimes, just the presence of multiple officers can assist in diffusing an incident. If the subject continues to resist, once backup arrives, multiple officers are at the scene to assist. This is where officers could benefit in some extra training. Teaching officers to perform some of the physical control techniques with multiple officers is useful in preventing injuries for both the officers and the subject. 

     It is also recommended that we have refresher training on the Action-Response form. The form provides us with a great deal of information, but sometimes interpreting that information can be cumbersome. Officers do not always complete the form in the same manner, and refresher training on proper completion could be beneficial to retrieving data.


TOLEDO POLICE DEPARTMENT
525 N. ERIE TOLEDO, OH 43604
EMERGENCIES DIAL 911
     
Go To Top