Crime and Courts

One-Third of DC Police Used Force in 2019, Mostly on Black Individuals: Report

Independent report reviews use of force incidents by D.C. Police in 2019

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The Office of Police Complaints found more than one-third of D.C. law enforcement — a total of 1,220 officers — reporting using some type of force in 2019 and almost all subjects were Black.

The number of officers reporting use of force is down 8% from the year before. However, the number was 40% higher than in 2015.

The OPC, which is part of the District's police accountability agency but independent of the police department, released a report Tuesday covering use of force incidents that occurred during 2019.

Researchers say they reviewed all reports filled out by police officers that year. Officers are required to submit information when they use any force other than handcuffing a resistant subject, the OPC says.

Black community members were the subject of nearly all reported uses of force: 91%. Just 46% of D.C. residents are Black, OPC says.

Most people targeted with force are men. About one-fifth of subjects were reportedly carrying a weapon.

Officers who use force are disproportionately male, younger and white. The Metropolitan Police Department had 35% white officers in 2019 and 40% of use of force incidents were associated with white officers, OPC says.

Most officers (67%) reported using force once or twice. Ninety-eight officers reporting using force five times or more. Four officers reporting using force 10 times or more last year, two in the Fifth District and two in the Seventh District.

A new project based in the D.C. area aims to prepare police officers to do something that can be at odds with their traditional training. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

The OPC also found that tactical take-downs and control holds were the most common types of force, used in 70% of reported incidents.

Guns pointed at subjects were the highest level of force reviewed and were found in 15% of cases.

The report found that appropriate force in line with D.C. Police guidelines was used in about two-thirds of cases. About 30% of officers used less force than prescribed, compared to 5% who reported using more.

The OPC also says it has reviewed one deadly car pursuit for each year since 2017.

The Board made no new recommendations for the department this year but noted several recommendations made in previous years have not been implemented.

D.C. Police didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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