Report: SPD’s use of force is down

Mar 8, 2011, 3:50 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

We hear a lot about the Seattle Police Department’s use of force. A new report shows it’s actually dropped over the past four years.

The report was done in August, but released yesterday. It details the number of use of force incidents from 2006 to 2009. It shows less than one percent of all interactions reported by officers involve the use of force. Even during arrests, officers reported using force less than three percent of the time.

In 2006, the number of reported use of force incidents was 872. Compare that to 2009, the number was 549, a decrease of 37 percent. The number of complaints about use of force was also down from 146 in 2006 to 105 in 2009.

The the time period covered in the report does not include a series of high-profile incidents between officers and minorities last year, including the fatal shooting of woodcarver John T. Williams. That shooting, by former SPD officer Ian Birk was ruled unjustified. The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting its own review of Seattle police policies regarding use of force.

NAACP president James Bible, who has been critical of police brutality incidents in the past few months, says the problem with the report is that it’s based on information provided by the officers themselves.

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Report: SPD’s use of force is down