Austin Police Use Of Force Up; Better Reporting Cited


Austin police reported using more force against suspects last year, an increase that officials attribute to a change in how officers document such instances, says an annual report quoted by the Austin American-Statesman. The number of reports rose to 1,703 last year from 1,152 in 2008 after police began requiring officers to log incidents electronically from their patrol car computers instead of on paper, among other changes.

“There was a greater chance that something could get misplaced,” Assistant Police Chief John Hutto said. “We are capturing more and better data than we were before.” Officers also have received more training on the types of situations that must be documented, including “lower level” force encounters, and the department also requires all officers involved in a force incident to file a force report. For instance, if three used force on one suspect, each would be required to submit a report. Those efforts were largely the result of recommendations by the U.S. Department of Justice, which in 2008 reviewed how the department uses force, particularly against minorities. That review came after requests from some community groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People , after several controversial incidents in which police used lethal force.

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