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

April 16, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (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 use-of-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.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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