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Office of Police Complaints Releases 5th Annual Report on Use of Force by D.C. Police

Monday, June 13, 2022
Report includes new section on officer-involved firearm discharges at human subjects

(Washington, DC) – The Office of Police Complaints (OPC) released today its fifth 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 2021, OPC found a total of 1,042 MPD officers reported using force, which represents a 5% decrease over the 1,098 officers who used force in 2020. This is a 64% increase from 2013 when a total of 636 officers reported using force.

OPC also found that 56 officers reported using force five times or more in 2021 and 10 officers reported using force 10 times or more. As in 2020, uses of force involving one officer was the largest use of force incident category, reflecting 61% of the total incidents in 2021.  

Additionally, 24 MPD officers reported intentionally discharging their firearm in 21 incidents, 20 at people and one at animals. Out of the 20 reported firearms discharged at people, 18 involved Black males, two were White males and five community members were fatally injured. One of the incidents 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.

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 uses of force by MPD officers. These Districts include the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest areas of Washington, DC as well as areas east of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.

Black community members were the subject of 92% of all reported uses of force in 2021 compared to 4% for white and 4% for Hispanic community members. In comparison to 2020, there was a 4% decrease in uses of forces against Hispanic community members. Males were the subject of 86% of reported uses of force and females were 14%. Also, 60% of community members that were the subject of reported uses of force in 2021 were between the ages of 18 and 34.

Additionally, white officers (38%), male officers (87%) and younger officers (56%) reported using force at a proportionally higher rate.

In 2021, tactical takedowns and control holds were the most common type of force used, which accounts for 63% of all uses of force. Control holds were the highest level of force used in 20% of uses of force.

Further, the Use of Force Review Board reviewed five neck restraint cases in 2021, all of which took place in 2019, 2020 and 2021. In these five incidents, there were eight neck restraints used. Of these neck restraints, all eight were “Not Justified, Not Within Department Policy.”

As a result of its review and analysis of MPD officers use of force, OPC made one new recommendation for 2021. In 2017 and 2018, OPC made eight and three recommendations respectively and two in 2020. To date, MPD has fully implemented eight, partially implemented four and not implemented two.

“Consistently for five years, the community has been able to see what the use of force by MPD officers looks like in the District of Columbia,” said Michael G. Tobin, OPC’s executive director. “The goal of producing a report of this magnitude continues to be transparency and to strengthen the public trust in MPD. But 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.”

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