Use of Force Statistics

The role of police officers has expanded exponentially over the past several years. Whether responding to domestic violence calls, mediating child custody disputes, coordinating resources for victims of substance abuse disorder, intervening with emotionally disturbed persons, arresting violent felons, investigating crimes, conducting traffic enforcement, investigating traffic crashes, addressing quality of life issues, or otherwise protecting and serving our community crime and disorder, there is always the possibility that police officers may be required to use force. The unpredictability of human behavior and the speed at which incidents can unfold, requires that each officer to be well-trained and prepared to use force in order to protect innocent victims and themselves.  In Abington, our officers receive extensive training on use of force tactics to include de-escalation techniques, and their actions are guided by applicable laws and policies governing the level of force that is appropriate to effect an arrest or to otherwise stop violent behavior. In the interest of promoting accountability, each Abington Police Officer is equipped with a body-worn camera and all incidents where force is used is reviewed by members of our command staff.  Our Department also understands the need to be transparent, in an effort to do so we have provided  our “Use of Force” statistics for the community to review.

The below statistics are calculated annually, and here is a brief description of the “How” and “Why” we compile incidences of use of force.  The statistics below cover all ranges of use of force from weaponless (hands-on) to discharging a firearm. Force was used in 31 incidents. In some of these incidents, force was used by more than one officer, bringing the total number of uses of force to 53. It’s very important to make the correlation between total incidents and the total number of involved persons, which in this case is 38 (9 residents and 29 non-residents). Some of these cases involved multiple suspects and multiple officers. For example, consider the following scenario and its corresponding use of force calculation. An officer points his less lethal weapon (TASER) at two involved persons during one incident. This is considered two uses of force, one for each involved person. If that same officer transitions to a weaponless force option (hands-on) with both involved persons, this is considered to be a total of four uses of force. Less lethal (TASER) and weaponless (hands-on) for each of the two involved persons attributed to the one officer.

The Abington Township Police Department considers accurate and transparent collection of Use of Force data critical to organizational effectiveness and officer accountability.  This data provides the Administration with valuable information about the number of times each officer is using force and helps us evaluate whether or not that that level of force is reasonable.  Since 2004 the Department employed an Early Warning System which identifies specific actions of police officers as early indicators of a need for intervention, training or discipline.  This Departmental metric identifies performance-related issues, and our General Order contains several factors that trigger the Early Warning System, and the use of force is one of those triggers.  Any combination of three or more of the factors during a three-month period triggers the Early Warning System. A trigger to this system creates an automatic Administrative Review by the Chief of Police or his designee.

In analyzing the Abington Township Police Departments Use of Force statistics it is important to view them in the context of the Department’s General Orders.  We strive to meet the benchmarks of 21st Century Policing and foster an environment that puts the needs of the Community First! 

Use of Force Policies
1.3.1 Use of Necessary Force
1.3.1a Duty to Intervene
1.3.2 Use of Deadly Force
1.3.4 Use of Less Lethal Force
1.3.5 Post Use of Force Medical Aid
1.3.6. Use of Force Reporting
1.3.8 Departmental Response In Use of Force

2019

White Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic Hispanic Latino Any Race Other Total
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
Firearm
Discharge 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Display Only 8 0 17 3 0 0 0 0 28
ECW (Taser)
Discharge Only 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Display Only 1 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 5
Other Less Lethal Displayed 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Other Less Lethal  discharged 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Baton 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chemical/OC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chemical/ OC Displayed 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Weaponless 3 1 8 2 2 0 0 0 16
Canine
Release Only 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Release and Bite 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total Uses of Force 13 2 30 5 3 0 0 0 53
Total Number of Incidents Resulting In Officer Injury or Death 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 4
Total Use of Force Arrests 6 1 22 3 1 0 0 0 33
Total Number of Suspects Receiving Non-Fatal Injuries 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
Total Number of Suspects Receiving Fatal Injuries 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total Agency Custodial Arrests 493 214 620 317 96 42 12 9 1803
Total Use of Force Complaints 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1

(9 Residents)      (29 Non-Residents)    31 Incidents

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