From 2010 to 2015, police arrested more than 58,150 Anglo suspects and used force against them 1,175 times. That’s a rate of 20.2 incidents per 1,000 arrests.Overall, use of force increased dramatically at SAPD since 2010. "In raw numbers, incidents of force have increased by nearly 75 percent since 2010, from 735 cases that year to 1,281 in 2015." As demonstrated above, most of that increase involved black or Hispanic suspects. However, according to the department, "the primary reason for that increase ... is that the SAPD broadened the definition of force to include takedown maneuvers, which drastically increased the number of reports." Regrettably, the data was not broken out so that one could judge how much of the increase resulted from the data-definition change. ("Trust us, we're the government.)
For minorities, the rates of force nearly doubled over the same five years.
Police arrested 89,700 Hispanic suspects and used force against them 3,217 times — a rate of 35.9 incidents per 1,000 arrests.
Police arrested 23,045 African-American suspects and used force against them 822 times — a rate of 35.7 incidents per 1,000 arrests.
Tedesco does inform us that, "The San Antonio Police Department has compiled thousands of “use of force” reports in a database that’s open to the public." I'll post a link if and when I find one, but an excerpt is included in the story. He gave a brief history how those reports became public.
SAPD began requiring officers to fill out “use-of-force” reports in 1998 under the leadership of then-Chief Al Philippus, but the city refused to release the information to the public.Chief William Mcmanus defended his officers against allegations of racial bias, but seemed IMO to protest a bit too much.
The Express-News sued the city to obtain the records, arguing they fell under the Texas Public Information Act. During a legal battle that lasted years, the city lost at the trial and appellate court levels, and finally released the records in 2002 after the Texas Supreme Court declined to consider the case.
It was the first time the public had access to a repository of every force incident documented at the SAPD. But the reports only offer one side of the story — the Police Department’s.
“When you're using official records to do this, you're kind of at the mercy of how the Police Department codes it,” Terrill said. “They're coding it from an interested-party perspective, right?”
After receiving an updated copy of the database, the Express-News found many of the reports offer only scant or contradictory details about what exactly happened, making it difficult to compare the level of resistance of the suspect to the level of force used by the officer.
“The race or ethnicity of a suspect is not, nor has it ever been, a factor in determining whether to use force or the level of force used,” McManus said in a statement released Friday. “Any suggestion that our highly trained officers are choosing to use force based on any reason other than to protect themselves or others is false and disrespectful to our men and women in uniform.”Since we know for a fact that some of his "highly trained officers" have chosen to use force for reasons "other than to protect themselves or others," I call BS on that one. It's one thing to push back on the racial angle, but quite another to basically pre-clear every officer in every use of force incident without respect to the details. That's statement is "false" and "disrespectful" to the public whom he's treating in this story like gullible chumps.
For those interested, here's SAPD's use of force policy. And while we're on the topic, here are a few other recent police accountability stories which merit Grits readers' attention:
- AP: Police departments begin to reward restraint tactics
- Civil Beat: Why is it so hard to pass police reform in Hawaii?
- Black Lives Matter: Police Use of Force Database (100 departments)