Lit­tle Rock po­lice see use-of-force in­ci­dents drop in 2017

El Dorado News-Times - - State Digest -

LIT­TLE ROCK (AP) — The Lit­tle Rock Po­lice Depart­ment recorded a nearly 8 per­cent drop in use-of-force in­ci­dents last year, ac­cord­ing to a re­port.

The depart­ment's an­nual useof-force re­port shows Lit­tle Rock po­lice logged 241 such in­ci­dents in 2017. Use-of-force in­ci­dents in­clude a range of phys­i­cal tac­tics, such as wrist­locks and deadly shoot­ings.

The drop is the low­est the agency has recorded in at least eight years, the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette re­ported. Po­lice records show the agency re­ported 430 use-of-force in­ci­dents in 2009.

As­sis­tant Chief Hay­ward Finks said the depart­ment has im­proved doc­u­ment­ing de-es­ca­la­tion tech­niques. He said doc­u­ment­ing what an of­fi­cer did to defuse a sit­u­a­tion should be just as im­por­tant as doc­u­ment­ing the type of force used.

Finks at­trib­uted the drop to the tech­niques and the agency giv­ing of­fi­cers manda­tory over­time.

Capt. Mar­cus Pax­ton, who over­sees the depart­ment's Train­ing Divi­sion, said he can't at­tribute the drop to the added of­fi­cer pres­ence.

"Try­ing to ac­tu­ally fig­ure out why we went down this last year ... there's no way to prove or dis­prove why it hap­pened," he said.

Pax­ton said of­fi­cers are trained to use force in re­ac­tion to a sus­pect's re­sis­tance or ag­gres­sion. The depart­ment uses role-play­ing ex­er­cises to teach of­fi­cers de-es­ca­la­tion, along with a vir­tual re­al­ity ma­chine that can sim­u­late dif­fer­ent types of sit­u­a­tions.

Pax­ton said de-es­ca­la­tion tech­niques gen­er­ally rely on bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion with a sus­pect.

Po­lice were in­volved in six shoot­ings last year, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Of­fi­cers didn't face crim­i­nal charges in five of those shoot­ings.

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