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DC police use of force cases up; shots fired down

A new report shows an increase in the number of use of force cases involving D.C. police officers. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli, File)

WASHINGTON — Amid a national discussion of how much force police need to use to preserve public safety, the D.C. police department used more force last year than in years past.

A new report compiled by the District of Columbia’s Police Complaints Board found the reported uses of force increased by 36 percent in fiscal year 2017 over the previous year.

The study found 2,224 total reported uses of force by 1,074 MPD officers, in 991 incidents.

Black subjects were on the receiving end of the use of force in 89 percent of the cases. The most common officer-subject pairing was white officers using force on black subjects, which accounted for 44 percent of all use of force incidents.

Almost 40 percent of the uses of force took place in the Fifth and Seventh police districts, which are made up of Wards 5, 7, and 8.

The study defines use of force to include physical takedowns, pointing of a firearm, use of pepper spray, fist strike, Taser and firearm discharge, among others.

MPD officers fired their guns in 10 incidents, the lowest number in five years. In three cases, the subject was killed.

In 15 percent of the incidents, the subject was armed.

Recommendations in the report include increasing the inclusion of more details about why officers came into contact with subjects.

In addition, the report suggests officers complete a use of force report immediately after an incident, rather than waiting for guidance from the U.S. attorney’s office.


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