Report shows decrease, racial divide in DC officers using force

Officers with the D.C. police department used force fewer times in 2021, but there was a steep racial divide among subjects involved, according to a new report.

The report from the District’s independent Office of Police Complaints showed that 1,042 officers used force last year, a 5% decrease over 2020.

“Black community members made up 92% of the total subjects MPD reported using force against in 2021,” according to the report. “White community members made up 4% of the total subjects in 2021 and Hispanic community members made up 4%.”

Tactical takedowns and control holds were the most common types of force, accounting for 63% of cases.

Firearms being pointed at subjects comprised 22% of cases, and 9% of cases involved officers using pepper spray.

According to the report, “24% of uses of force involved subjects who were reportedly armed with some type of weapon” and “17% of uses of force involved subjects who were reportedly armed with a firearm.”

Subjects in 30% of incidents were reportedly under the influence of alcohol or drugs or showing signs of mental illness.

Police officers fired their guns at subjects in 20 use of force cases, resulting in five deaths.

One of the shootings occurred in the First District, one in the Second District, three in the Third District, five in the Fourth District, three in the Fifth District, three in the Sixth District, three in the Seventh District and one in Virginia.

“The goal of producing a report of this magnitude continues to be transparency and to strengthen the public trust in MPD,” said Michael Tobin, the executive director of the Office of Police Complaints.

“We also want to make sure the community understands all aspects of use of force by the police department and not just about the ones they hear about.”

Similar to 2020, the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh districts reported the most use of force incidents in 2021, which together accounted for 59% of all use of force cases.

Those include the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest areas of the city, as well as areas east of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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