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Office of Police Complaints Releases 4th Annual Report on Use of Force by D.C. Police

Monday, April 26, 2021
(Report details use of force incidents and recommendations to help improve community trust

(Washington, DC) – The Office of Police Complaints (OPC), today released its fourth annual Use of Force report to Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Acting Chief Robert J. Contee III.

In 2020, OPC found a total of 1,098 MPD officers reported using force, which represents a 10 percent decrease over the 1,220 officers who used force in 2019. However, this is a 73 percent increase from 2013 when a total of 636 officers reported using force.

OPC also found that 66 officers reported using force five times or more in 2020 and seven officers reported using force 10 times or more. Uses of force involving one officer was the largest use of force incident category, reflecting 48 percent of the total incidents in 2020.

Additionally, 24 MPD officers reported intentionally discharging their firearm in 12 incidents, nine at people and three at animals. Out of the nine reported, eight involved Black males, one was a White male and two community members were fatally injured. Three of the incidents occurred in the Sixth District, one in the Seventh District, one in the First District, one in the Fourth District and one in Virginia.

The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Districts reported the most use of force incidents in 2020, which together accounted for 59 percent of all uses of force by MPD officers. These Districts include the Northeast area of Washington, DC as well as areas east of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.

Black community members were the subject of 91 percent of all reported uses of force in 2020 compared to 3 percent for white and 8 percent for Hispanic community members. Males were the subject of 87 percent of reported uses of force and females were 13 percent. In addition, 63 percent of community members that were the subject of reported uses of force in 2020 were between the ages of 18 and 34.

As in 2019, white officers (41 percent), male officers (88 percent) and younger officers (51 percent) reported using force at a proportionally higher rate.

Additionally, tactical takedowns and control holds were the most common type of force used, which accounts for 64 percent of all uses of force. Control holds were the highest level of force used in 19 percent of uses of force.

Further, the Use of Force Review Board reviewed 13 neck restraint cases in 2020, all of which took place in 2018, 2019 and 2020. In these 13 incidents, there were 15 neck restraints used. Of these neck restraints, 14 out of 15 were “Not Justified, Not Within Department Policy.”

As a result of its review and analysis of MPD officers use of force, OPC made two new recommendations for 2020. In 2017 and 2018, OPC made eight and three recommendations respectively and expanded an FY17 recommendation in 2018. To date, MPD has fully implemented six, partially implemented three and not implemented two.

“Police use of force continues to erode the public’s trust in police officers and police departments within our communities,” said Michael G. Tobin, OPC’s executive director. “OPC’s goal through this report is to enhance transparency of MPD’s use of force and help improve community trust in the police department.”

To view the full report, visit www.policecomplaints.dc.gov.