A federally-funded study into police brutality found that in over 1 million police calls, the “use of force” occurred in just 1 of 1,167 cases, or 0.086 percent.
The key finding: less than one in a million cases led to a fatality.
The review conducted with the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center studied 1.04 million calls from three police departments over two years and found 893 cases in which suspects were subjected to force.
The report found that “among the 914 suspects affected in the 893 use-of-force incidents, 355 incurred mild injuries such as abrasions and contusions, a rate of 39 percent. But only 16 of the suspects suffered moderate or severe physical injuries, a rate of 1.8 percent. One of those 16 cases was a fatality, from a gunshot wound.”
The Fraternal Order of Police welcomed the report. In a tweet, it said, “US Govt funds two year study on police use of force and discovers what we already knew. The use of force by police is extremely rare and injuries from use of force is even rarer.”
The study was published in Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. It was funded by the National Institute of Justice.
“A remarkable finding in the study is how infrequently police use force at all – less than 1 in 1,100 calls for service and less than 1 in 120 criminal arrests is surprisingly low, and contrary to many perceptions that police commonly use violence in their interactions with the public,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. William P. Bozeman, professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
- Among the 914 suspects affected in the 893 use-of-force incidents, 355 incurred mild injuries such as abrasions and contusions, a rate of 39 percent. But only 16 of the suspects suffered moderate or severe physical injuries, a rate of 1.8 percent. One of those 16 cases was a fatality, from a gunshot wound.
- Unarmed physical force (51 percent) and conducted electrical weapons such as Tasers (36 percent) were the most common methods used by police, followed by chemical agents such as pepper spray (6.3 percent), and dogs (3.4 percent). Handheld impact weapons such as batons, impact projectiles such as plastic bullets and firearms were less commonly used (each less than 1 percent).
- Analysis showed that most of the 16 significant injuries were associated with firearms and dogs while none were incurred in the 504 uses of conducted electrical weapons (Tasers).
- Of the 355 suspects who were transported to medical facilities, 277 (78 percent) were released and 78 (22 percent) were hospitalized, but only 19 of those hospital admissions (5 percent of those taken for evaluation and 2 percent of all suspects after use of force) were due to injuries related to police use of force.
- The suspects were primarily male (89 percent) with a mean age of 31.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org