Number of Kent Police use of force incidents increases

An 18 percent hike in 2017 from 2016

Number of Kent Police use of force incidents increases

Kent Police and city jail correction officers resorted to use of force to detain 487 people in 2017, an 18 percent increase from 2016.

Sworn officers accounted for 401 of the use of force applications, a 16 percent increase from the previous year, according to the report. Correction officers accounted for 86 of the applications, a 30 percent increase from 2016.

“We have a high volume of inmates with mental health issues or substance abuse – up to 60 percent of them at one time,” Police Chief Rafael Padilla said about the increase in jail incidents during a Oct. 10 presentation to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Padilla said one reason for the increase in use of force by police is because the training unit has emphasized team tactics for officers. So if three officers respond to an incident and use force to handcuff someone, that would count as three uses of force.

“We average 90,000 calls for service (per year), so 487 is less than one-half of 1 percent,” Padilla said “It’s still a very small amount of use of force.”

Padilla said the police department compiles the report about use of force each year.

“It’s required by certification with WASPC (Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs) and is part of our best practices to look at what kind of force we are using and are we doing the right training,” he said.

Police used firearms six times in four incidents.

“These are low frequency events that suggest no patterns even though it was a 100 percent increase from the year prior,” said Sgt. Mike Schanbacher, head of the training unit, in the report.

There were 48 uses of force that were listed as ineffective, with chemicals the least effective at 50 percent. But with only four applications, that is not a large enough sample to warrant concern, Schanbacher said.

Punches and kicks were listed at 27 percent non-effective followed by Tasers at 22 percent.

Officers reported that force was used on 246 subjects that were impaired, half of all incidents. Seventy-seven were impaired by alcohol, 83 by drugs and 86 had some form of mental illness.

A total of 77 officers listed injuries as a result of a use of force, according to the report, up 20 percent from the previous year. Injuries were up 27 percent for correction officers and 20 percent for patrol officers.

“We are looking at whether we need to adjust some of our training,” Padilla said. “Most (injuries) are when we use counter joints – grab and manipulate a joint for compliance. We are still not sure why injuries are up, so we will be looking at that (in more detail).”

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BREAKOUT

Use of force by Kent Police

Type: Incidents

Firearms: 6

Punches/kicks: 37

Taser dart: 31

Taser stun: 5

Hair hold: 4

Shove: 22

Chemical: 4

Swarming (multiple officers): 58

Impact: 10

Counter joint (grab): 10

LVNR (neck hold): 22

K-9: 18

Vehicle strike: 11

P.I.T. (vehicle pursuit tactic): 15

Other: 88

Total: 487

Source: Kent Police


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