Austin police report they are using physical force in more of their encounters with the public, an Austin American-Statesman analysis of 3½ years of internal police data shows. The steady increase in cases in which officers use a weapon or their hands to compel compliance has occurred even as the number of times police come into contact with the public has steadily fallen during the same period. Arrests dropped 15 percent between 2009 and 2011.
The result: Austin police's reported incidence of force — the likelihood officers used some form of physical coercion during arrests — jumped more than 80 percent between 2009 and 2011. In 2011, Austin police reported using force in 1,686 incidents — an average of 4.5 times every day of the year. Many of those cases had more than one officer using force, occasionally on more than one person. A large number occurred downtown. They also argue that a more aggressive public is pushing officers to respond in kind. “The level of resistance against officers on the street has increased,” said Chief Art Acevedo.