On Friday October 23, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released its “Use of Force” report covering a four-year time period from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019. The Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) with the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandates that APD compile the report once a year. The 74-page Use of Force report shows the findings from APD’s Internal Affairs Division as they looked into the department’s use of force for the 4-year time period.
This blog article highlights major statistics relating strictly to APD and is not to be consider at all reflective of the city’s overall crime problem. For example, the city recorded 82 murders in 2019 and FBI statistics revealed that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate 194% higher than the national average. Other statistics not reported include types of injuries sustained, “Unique Show of Force” cases, Police Service Dog activations and Tactical Activations. The link to the entire use of force report is here:
RATIONAL FOR LOOKING AT 4 YEAR TIME PERIOD
The 4-year time period of January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019 was selected for two major reasons:
First: Refined data collection methods have allowed for updated and more accurate data, even retroactively. As of October 2019, APD’s Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD) completed a thorough review of 304 cases, largely from 2017. Findings and revisions from this dataset have been incorporated into [the] updated report.
Second: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and City of Albuquerque Court-Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) specifies exactly what information should be included in APD’s Use of Force Annual Reports. The use of a multi-year data set provides a better basis for defining these use of force measures, variables and analytic processes. Examining four years’ worth of data, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 allows for examination of trends and longitudinal patterns, which can inform best practices.
(Page 3 of Use of Force report)
Katharine Jacobs of APD’s Internal Affairs Division had this to say about the report:
“We’re able to start looking at this longitudinally, looking for trends and the goal was to look at force in the bigger context.”
The following definitions are provided to help understand the data reported:
A “Use Of Force Case” involves an incident with one or more individuals, one or more police officers, and one or more uses of force.
A “Show Of Force Case” involves one or more individuals, one or more police officers, and one or more displays of weapons, but no actual use of force during that incident.
A “Use Of Force Type Or Show Of Force Type” is the specific application of a force type or types in a Use of Force or Show Of Force incident. For example, one police officer may display or use several kinds of force (e.g., display handgun, or empty hand techniques and ECW) with one individual during one encounter. Therefore, the number of “Use Of Force Types” or “Show Of Force Types” will be higher than the number of individuals involved in Use Of Force or Show Of Force Cases.
NUTSHELL OF MAJOR APD STATISTICS FOR 2016, 2917, 2918, 2019
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Use of Force report has upwards of 56 bar graphs and charts and 8 maps in the 73-page report. Below are the combined totals in the top 8 blogger “consolidated” categories for the years 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. The calculations for the 7 categories are based on the raw numbers gleaned from the various bar graphs in the report.
Civilian deaths in 4 years involving APD shootings: 19
Number APD arrests: 58,251
APD “use of force” incidents (Empty hand, TAZER, gun discharge): 2,395
APD “show of force” incidents (Handgun, rifle, TAZER): 1,087
APD firearm discharges: 65
Number of times APD officers displayed a hand gun: 524
Number of times APD officers displayed a rifle: 212
Times APD used “electronic control weapon” (TAZER): 365
Estimated total “calls for service” generating “case numbers” 312,000 to 375,000
(Combined number of cases generated by all 6 area commands)
HIGHLIGHTS OF REPORT
Following are major highlights gleaned from the report and bars graphs used:
According to the use of force report for the 4-year period, the “use of force” and “show of force” incidents by APD increased each year for the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The report stated 98% of the violations of use of force incidents were in policy, but there still was an increase in use of force for the 4 years.
Approximately 88% of individuals involved in a use of force are arrested. (Page 53 of use of force report.)
63% of individuals involved in a “force event” are between the ages 20-36.
When it comes to race and ethnicity:
1. 72% of individuals involved in a combined “show of force” and “use of force” events are white. (page 46)
2. 53% of individuals involved in strictly “use of force” events are Hispanic (page 49 of use of force report)
3. “Black and Native American individuals appear to be over-represented in “shows of force” and “uses of force.” However, statistical testing designed to compare expected (proportional) and actual values was completed and, due to small numbers, no conclusive results could be found as to Black and Native Americans.
Since certain demographic categories returned small expected values, statistical testing is inappropriate. Setting aside the percentages, the actual numbers are relatively small for Black and Native Americans. For instance, 11 Black individuals were involved in shows of force in 2017.
It is inappropriate to conclude that minority populations are over-represented; however, this is not an impossibility either. In short, while these percentages may look disproportionate, because of relatively small numbers of individuals of minority races involved in force events, it is impossible to say for sure if they are or are not statistically disproportionate.”
(page 47 and 48 of use of force report.)
95% of individuals involved in use of force incidents did not exhibit “limited or no English language proficiency”. (Page 52 of report)
Sexual orientation was reported as unknown in 78% of force events. (Page 44 of report).
Use of force incidents saw the biggest jump from 2018 to 2019 with a 23% increase. Notwithstanding the increase, overall, the report states that “use of force” and “show of force” are “an extremely rare occurrence ” during the 4 years reported upon.
From January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019, about 1 per 500 to 1 per 1,000 “calls for service” and “officer-initiated actions” (OIA) involved APD using force.
From January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019, between 4-5% of arrests involved police “use of force.”
An overwhelming majority of “use of force incidents” across all 4 years were found to be compliant with APD use of force policy.
In 2019 there were 605 uses of force and 163 shows of force with 10 uses of force incidents found to be out of policy or 1.6% of the total.
When it came to officer-initiated actions, such as spotting a stolen car, or witnesses a disturbance, APD officers used force a mere 212 times out of more than 242,000 incidents.
APD has improved in two critical areas monitored over the last four years:
1. Supervisory and investigative staff are better tracking if officers are using their on-body recording devices. In 2016 this indicator was incomplete for over 50% of officers involved in force cases. As of 2019, fewer than 2% of officers involved in force cases are missing the data.
2. APD officers are more often capturing force events. As of 2019, over 88% of officers involved in a force events recorded the encounter in full. Every year 2016 through 2019 has seen an increase in the percentage of officers recording force events in full.
(See page 19 of use of force report)
Standoff Mode Makes up 98% “electronic control weapon” (ECW) use by APD. . As far as ECW use, drive-stun mode, or placing the ECW directly on the individual, alone is used in less than 2% of applications.
(Page 34 of report)
The malfunction of body cameras was reported as a major a concern. In 2016, more than half of officers involved recordings in force cases were incomplete. In 2019, more than 88% of those events were fully recorded.
The Southeast Area Command, the area south of I-40 and east of I-25 had the most dispatched calls for service. APD saw a 130% increase in calls for service in Southeast Area Command, more than any other area command.
The Southeast Area Command experiencing more force incidents than other area commands for the reason that it receives a higher volume of calls for service and more calls more frequently associated with force incidents.
There are 4 major call types associated with use of force:
According to the report:
“It is unclear what may be driving the increase in use of force incidents from 2017 to 2018 and again from 2018 to 2019. … More proactive policing strategies, better reporting of force incidents and other initiatives may account for this increase. Additionally, four years of data is insufficient to draw conclusions about trends over time; the fluctuations may be simply ‘regression to the mean.’”
(Page 17, Use of Force report.)
STATISTICAL HIGHLIGHTS FOR CALLS FOR SERVICE 2016-2019 BY AREA COMMAND
All computer-aided dispatches (CADs) deemed as “calls for service” are tabulated in the report. The report then narrows to focus on only those CAD calls which generate a case number. Final call types, rather than original call types, are considered.
A call for service does not include calls such as sending crime scene technicians, requesting tow trucks, etc. A call for service does not include “be on the lookout” (BOLO) calls, traffic stops or other officer-initiated action (OIA). Data from 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are included for each of the six area commands served by APD, Foothills, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and Valley.
The use of force report provides vertical bar graphs to dispatched calls for service for each of the 6 areas command for the years of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 that do not provide exact total or the raw numbers are and just the bar graphs. Based on the bar graphs provided the following numbers can be “gleaned” or projected for each area command for the time period of January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019:
FAR HEIGHTS (FH) Area Command: Between 50,000 to 60,000 calls for service each year.
EDITORS NOTE: The Far Heights Area Command, also known as the or Foothills Area Command, is bordered by San Antonio NE to the north, the Sandia Foothills to the east, Kirtland Air Force Base to the south, and Eubank Boulevard to the west. This Command Area has some of the lowest crime rates in the City.
NORTH EAST (NE) Area Command: Between 77,000 and 90,000 calls for service each year.
EDITORS NOTE: The Northeast Area Command is bordered by Albuquerque city limits to the north, Eubank Boulevard to the east, Interstate 40 to the south, and Interstate 25 to the west. This Area Command has a more recent history of increasing crime rates in the city, especially residential break-ins and robberies.
NORTH WEST (NW) Area Command: Between 40,000 and 50,000 calls for service each year.
EDITORS NOTE: The Northwest Area Command is bordered by Albuquerque city limits to the west and north, the west bank of the Rio Grande to the east, and Interstate 40 to the south. This Command Area has some of the lowest crime rates in the City.
SOUTH EAST (SE) Area Command: Between 85,000 and 105,000 calls for service each year.
EDITORS NOTE: The Southeast Area Command is bordered by Interstate 40 to the north, Eubank Boulevard to the east, Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque city limits to the south, and Interstate 25 to the west. This Area Command has an extensive history of having the highest crime rates in the city.
SOUTH WEST (SW) Area Command: Between 40,000 and 50,000 calls for service each year.
EDITORS NOTE: The Southwest Area Command is bordered by Interstate 40 the north, the Rio Grande to the east, the South Valley to the south, and Albuquerque city limits to the west.
VALLEY AREA (VA) Command: Between 70,000 and 80,000 calls for service each year.
EDITORS NOTE: The Valley Area Command is bordered by the Albuquerque city limits to the north and south, Interstate 25 to the east, and the Rio Grande, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and the North Valley to the west. This Area Command has an extensive history of having the second highest crime rates in the City.
(See page 10 of use of force report for bar vertical bar graphs.)
RACE IS NOT DETERMINING FACTOR IN THE INCREASE IN USE OF FORCE NUMBERS NOR CALLS FOR SERVICE
While the use of force report shows a much higher number of “use of force cases” in the Southeast Area Command where larger numbers of people of color live the, data reflects that it’s because the SE Area Command has the highest number of calls for service and it has nothing to do with race.
APD Data Analyst Katherine Jacobs said when looking at demographics, the sample sizes are too small for differences among races to be significant and explained it this way:
“It would appear that African Americans and Native Americans are perhaps over represented when it comes to uses of force; we did run some statistical testing to find if that’s statistically significant and its inconclusive. … When you norm it against calls for service, when you look at it as a ratio, its fairly comparable across all area commands. … We don’t have a large enough sample size to determine if certain populations are overrepresented.”
NUMBER OF ARRESTS
Arrest is defined as “the taking of one person into custody by another. To constitute arrest there must be an actual restraint of the person. The restraint may be imposed by force or may result from the submission of the person arrested to the custody of the one arresting the person. An arrest is a restraint of greater scope or duration than an investigatory stop or detention. An arrest is lawful when supported by probable cause.”
The number of arrests for the four years of 2016-2019 are as follows:
2016: 14,022 total arrests made
2017: 13,582 total arrests made
2018: 15,471 total arrests made
2019: 15,151 total arrests made
TOTAL NUMBER OF ARREST MADE BY APD: 58,226
(Page 14, Use of Force Reports)
FORCE INCIDENTS IN CONTEX OF NUMBER OF CALLS OUTS
“Given how much interaction APD officers have with the public in a given year, as measured by the volume of calls for service, officer-initiated actions and arrests, force events are an extremely rare occurrence. From the years of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, roughly 1 per 500 hundred to 1,000 calls for service and officer-initiated actions are associated with a use of force. Between 4% and 5% percent of arrests are associated with force.”
Following is the breakdown of statistics for each year:
Dispatched Calls: 422,471
Officer Initiated Actions (OIAs): 45,672
Custodial Arrests: 14,022
Force Incidents: 524
Dispatched calls: 429,598
Officer Initiated Actions (OIAs): 55,856
Custodial Arrests: 13,582
Force Incidents: 570
Officer Initiated Actions (OIAs): 70,151
Custodial Arrests: 15,471
Force Incidents: 643
Dispatched calls: 370,036
Officer Initiated Actions (OIAs): 70,903
Custodial Arrests: 15,151
Force Incidents: 768
TOTAL APD FORCE INCIDENTS: 2,505
(Page 15, Use of Force report)
GENERAL FINDINGS OF “USE OF FORCE”
There are a variety of the types of use of force techniques represented in the report statistics and they include Empty Hand, Solo Takedowns, Team Takedowns, electronic control weapons (ECW), Impact 44 mm, Pain Compliance, Hand – Feet Impact, Police Service Dog Apprehension – Bite, Firearm (officer involved shooting), Impact – Beanbag, OC Spray, NFDD, Improvised Weapon, Empty Hand Takedown, OC Vapor and Baton Takedown.
Empty hand techniques, takedowns and ECWs are consistently the most overwhelmingly used type of force with the others often used reported in single digit numbers. ECW – Painting and Display Handgun Comprise 77% of Shows of Force.
(Page 26, Use of Force report)
STATISTICAL HIGHLIGHTS USE OF FORCE:
“EMPTY HAND TECHNIQUES” (EHT) are defined as strikes, grabs, kicks, takedowns, distraction techniques and proper arrest techniques to control an actively resistant individual. EHTs increased steadily each year for the 4 years. Empty hand technique takedowns and Electronic Control Weapon (ECW) , ie TAZERS are consistently the most used type of force and increasing steadily over the 4 years:
2016: 414 police EHTs
2017: 331 police EHTs
2018: 458 police EHTs
2019: 762 police EHTs.
TOTAL TIMES APD USED EMPTY HAND TECHNIQUES: 1,965
“ELECTRONIC CONTROL WEAPON” (ECW) is a weapon, including those manufactured by TASER International, designed primarily to discharge electrical charges into an individual that will cause involuntary muscle contractions and override the individual’s voluntary motor responses. Following is the number breakdown of ETW incidents for the 4 years:
2016: 60 police using ECWs
2017: 94 police using ECWs
2018: 105 police using ECWs
2019: 106 police using ECWs
TOTAL TIMES APD USED ECW: 365
“FIREARM DISCHARGE” is defined as “when the trigger is pulled on a firearm and releases a projectile”. Following is the number breakdown of “fire arm discharge” incidents for the 4 years:
2016: 8 APD firearm discharges
2017: 19 APD firearm discharges
2018: 23 APD firearm discharges
2019: 15 APD firearm discharges
TOTAL APD FIREARM DISCHARGES: 65
(Page 27 Use of Force Report)
NUMBER OF OFFICERS INVOLVED IN FIREARM DISCHARGES
The Court Approved Settlement Agreement ( CASA) requires APD to track and report all critical firearm discharges and discharges at animals. Changes in APD reporting no longer collect beanbag weapon discharges. Beanbag weapons are considered a less-lethal use of force. The numbers of accidental discharges for 2016 and 2017 have decreased in this revised report as accidental beanbags are no longer included. While both the number of officers and unique incidents increased from 2016 to 2018 with regard to officer-involved shootings, it is worth noting they decreased in 2019.
Below are the number of officers involved in a firearm discharge as well as the number of unique firearm discharges for the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Firearm Discharges Count of Officers:
Officer Involved Shooting in Vehicle: 1
Officer Involved Shooting Individual: 7
Officer Involved Shooting in Vehicle: 0
Officer Involved Shooting Individual: 19
Officer Involved Shooting in Vehicle: 1
Officer Involved Shooting Individual: 22
Officer Involved Shooting in Vehicle:
Officer Involved Shooting Individual: 15
(Page 35 of Use of Force Report)
“SHOWS OF FORCE” STATISTICS FOR DISPLAY HANDGUN, RIFLE USE AND ELECTRONIC CONTROL WEAPON (EWC)
“Shows of force” include the categories of drawing a handgun, pointing a rifle, electronic control weapon (ECW) painting which consists of unholstering and pointing an ECW at an individual while activating the ECW’s laser dot to show that the weapon is aimed at the individual and displaying a bean bag.
Displaying a handgun “ECW- Painting” and comprise 77% of “Shows of Force”.
STATISTICAL HIGHLIGHTS FOR APD POLICE DISPLAY HANDGUN OR RIFLE
“DISPLAY HANDGUN” is defined as drawing and exhibiting a firearm as part of a warning tactic, typically accompanied by appropriate verbalization. Following are the 4-year numbers:
2016: there were 107 police Display Handgun incidents
2017: there were 124 police Display Handgun incidents
2018: there were 143 police Display Handgun incidents
2019: there were 150 police Display Handgun incidents
4 YEAR TOTAL TIMES APD DISPLAYED HAND GUN: 524
(See page 29 of use of force report)
Following are the 4-year numbers the number of incidents where police displayed a rifle:
2016: there were 18 police display rifle incidents
2017: there were 76 police display rifle incidents
2018: there were 54 police display rifle incidents
2019: there were 64 police display rifle incidents
4 YEAR TOTAL TIMES POLICE DISPLAYED RIFLE: 212
ELECTRONIC CONTROL WEAPON PAINTING (ECW Painting) is the act of unholstering and pointing an ECW at an individual and activating the ECW’s laser dot to show that the weapon is aimed at the individual. ECW Arcing is activating an ECW without discharging the probes, sometimes done as a warning to an individual. Following are the 4-year numbers:
2016: 91 police ECW Painting display incidents
2017: 138 police ECW Painting display incidents
2018: 122 police ECW Painting display incidents
2019: 140 police ECW Painting display incidents
4 YEAR TOTAL ECW PAINTING DISPLAY INCIDENTS: 351
(Pages 28, 29 Use of Force report)
MAJORITY OF INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN USE FORCE UNARMED
According to the report, the majority of individuals involved in a use of force incident are not armed. It may appear surprising that many individuals are not armed during a use of force it is important to recognize many officers are electing to not use a weapon either. This finding speaks to APD officers’ ability to use force in proportion during rapidly-changing and unpredictable situations and to respond with an appropriate level of force. Following is the 4-year breakdown:
(Page 54 of use of force report)
OVER 81% OF “USE OF FORCE APPLICATIONS” DO NOT INVOLVE A WEAPON
According to the report over 81% of “use of force applications” do not involve a weapon. Following is the 4-year breakdown:
Involved a Weapon: 101
No Weapon: 732
Involved a Weapon: 198
No Weapon: 558
Involved a Weapon: 211
No Weapon: 726
Involved a Weapon: 196
No Weapon: 1,058
(Page 54 of use of force report)
INDIVIDUALS HOSPITALIZED AFTER INJURY DURING FORCE EVENT
Following is the 4-year breakdown of individuals hospitalized after injury during force event:
2016: 224 total cases, or 55% of total force cases, Number of individuals injured: 228
2017: 256 total cases, or 62% of total force cases, Number of individuals injured: 265
2018: 290 total cases, or 59% of total force cases, Number of individuals injured: 297
2019: 345 total cases, or 57% of total force cases, Number of individuals injured: 349
(Page 55 and 56 of Use of Force Report)
CASES WITH OFFICERS INJURED
Following is the 4-year breakdown of APD officers injured during force event:
2016: 100 cases, number of officers injured: 135
2017: 108 cases, number of officers injured: 125
2018: 120 cases, number of officers injured: 146
2019: 156 cases, number of officers injured: 189
(Page 61 OF Use of Force Report)
19 CIVILIAN DEATHS IN OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTINGS
Over the last four years, 19 individuals have died during a use of force by APD police offices. 18 of the cases were an “officer-involved shootings.” The remaining individual’s death was attributed to “toxic effects of methamphetamine and cocaine and effects of conducted energy device” by the Office of the Medical Investigator. All of these individuals were white males ranging in age from 18 to 59. Each of the individual suspects was armed.
2016: 4 deaths
2017: 4 deaths (3 officer involved shooting, 1 drug related determined by medical examiner)
2018: 7 deaths
2019: 4 deaths
TOTAL DEATHS FROM USE OF FORCE BY APD: 19
(Page 58 of Use of Force Report)
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
APD’s Use for Force number a very small part the overall picture when it comes to the City’s crime rates.
FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate 194% higher than the national average. Albuquerque has been on the forefront of the trend on violent crime increasing for the last 5 years and homicides have more than doubled. In 2014, the city had 30 homicides and each year thereafter homicides increased and in 2019 the city had 82 homicides, the most in the city’s history. As of October 9, the city has had 58 homicides.
On Monday, September 21, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) release statistics that overall crime in the city is down slightly by 5% across all categories in the first six months of 2020 as compared with the first six months of 2019. The good news is APD reported that crime has decreased 15% since 2018. The bad news is that in some cases, the improvements this year were minuscule.
The city’s crime statistics will be reported in another future blog article.
NOTHING ON APD’S INTERACTION WITH MENTALLY ILLL
On April 10, 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, submitted its scathing 46-page investigation report on an 18-month civil rights investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). What differentiates the DOJ’s investigation of APD from the other federal investigations and consent decrees of police departments in the country is that the other consent decrees involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of excessive force or deadly force against minorities.
When it came to APD, a significant amount of the force incidents reviewed was used against persons with mental illness and in crisis. The April 10, 2014 United States Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found a “culture of aggression” within APD and dedicated a significant amount of the force review against persons with mental illness and in crisis and APD’s specific responses to suspects that were having mental illness episodes. The investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respects their rights and is safe for all involved.
Least anyone forget, during the last 10 years, there have been 32 police officer involved shootings and the city has paid out $61 million dollars in settlements to family’s who have sued APD for wrongful death. A significant number of those lawsuits involved the mentally ill. The most memorable APD Use of Deadly Force case was the killing of homeless camper and mentally ill James Boyd in the Sandia foothills in April, 2014 where both SWAT and the K-9 units were dispatched. The Boyd case was settled for $5 million paid to his family for his wrongful death and two SWAT officers were charged and tried for murder ending in a deadlock jury and no acquittal and the charges later dropped against both police officers.
The Use of Force Reports are absolutely critical for the community to evaluate whether the mandated reforms under the CASA are being implemented and working, especially when it comes to APD’s interactions with the mentally ill. When you read and review the entire “Use of Force Report” for the years of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 a major omission in the report is that there are no statistics regarding APD’s crisis intervention incidents and interactions with the mentally ill, especially by the SWAT unit.
A major concern is that the current report fails to elaborate or explain much other than hard statistics compiled in the various categories mandated by the settlement. The report fails to include data to what to what extent use of force instances were out of compliance with policy, how many officers were disciplined for use of force and if any policy or training changes were made.
The consolidated four-year report does report an increase in the percentages of use of force cases that involved unarmed victims without offering any possible explanation for the increase other than the officers did not use their weapons. APD’s Compliance Bureau in conjunction with the Force Division of APD Internal Affairs should be able to provide more analysis and not just the regurgitation of statistics with vertical bar graphs that are difficult for the public to understand.
The use of force report for the 4 years should also contain a report regarding APD’s interactions with the mentally ill, the number of times the SWAT unit was deployed over the last three years to deal with “crisis intervention” and well as the training of APD officers in crisis intervention.
A link to a related blog article is here: