Los Angeles police officers used serious force against suspects more times last year – and were more likely to shoot at suspects – than in 2003, says the Los Angeles Times. Although last year’s 132 use of force incidents represented an 18 percent increase over 2003, police officials said there is no trend of increased aggressiveness by officers. Chief William Bratton said the increase reflects improved reporting of incidents, random variations, and a 5 percent rise in arrests, which increased the chances of conflict between officers and suspects.
Officers were slightly more likely to hit their targets in 2004. They missed 38 percent of the time, compared with 41 percent in 2003. Their hits were more lethal: Seventeen people died as a result of police gunfire in 2004, compared with 14 in 2003 and 15 in 2002. Officers resorted to serious force in only a tiny fraction of incidents, less than a 10th of 1 percent of total arrests. Bratton argued that the degree of danger officers face should be considered when evaluating whether they are using appropriate force.