COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The City of Colorado Springs is taking another look at a recent third-party report on their Police Department's use of force since the beginning of 2017. On Monday at 3 pm, leaders with the Colorado Springs Police Department will present a use of force report filed by the consulting group Transparency Matters.
According to Chief of Police Adrian Vasquez, city taxpayers paid about $169,000 for the report. The city entered into a contract with the group in January of 2021. The report encompasses the use of force incidents between January 2017 and December 2020.
In the report, it says the purpose is "to examine current practices and identify opportunities to
reduce the frequency and severity of use of force incidents, racial/ethnic disparities in force, and injuries
to both officers and citizens through improvements to policies, training, and supervision."
Since the beginning of 2017, there have been more than 2,000 use of force incidents according to the third-party report.
The study found that Black and Hispanic arrestees were 1.3 times and 1.2 times, more likely than white arrestees to have force used against them. According to the researchers behind the report, that number is lower than most police departments across the country.
However, when you factor the number of use of force incidents based on the entire population demographics of Colorado Springs, black individuals had force used against them at a ratio that was 4.75 times greater than whites.
"This finding shows that use of force for Black individuals compared to White individuals is highly disparate relative to their respective representation in the residential population," the report stated.
Using the population demographics for Hispanics in Colorado Springs, "there was essentially no difference between the likelihood of use of force for Hispanic individuals compared to White individuals based on residential population statistics."
However, CSPD tell 13 Investigates this may not be the most relevant statistic to measure use of force in the community.
"A residential population benchmark assumes everyone in the City is equally likely to come in contact with police in a way that puts them at risk for having force used against them," a spokesperson with CSPD told 13 Investigates. "This is the wrong measure to use because people have different levels of risk for use of force when coming in contact with police—for example, people who commit crimes are much more likely than people who do not commit crimes to interact with police in a way that could lead to force."
When it comes to use of force, the authors of the Transparency Matters report recommends comparing demographics by those that are already involved in crime, and not the entire residential population of Colorado Springs.
The third-party report also analyzed a number of different pointing of firearm reports where all of the actions were approved by CSPD supervisors. After reviewing a sample size of approximately 140 pointing firearm reports, researchers deemed that 77% of the reports were deemed appropriate and justified based on the facts of the CSPD reports. However, in 14% of the incidents, "officers unnecessarily escalated encounters or applied inappropriate or unnecessary uses of force."
The report recommends that CSPD:
- Enhance agency culture that emphasizes, reinforces, and rewards the use of de-escalation tactics
and skills by officers through systematic documentation, continual reinforcement of policies and
training, and development of accountability and oversight mechanisms.
- Continue the processes established for the CSPD’s Use of Force Committee for comprehensive
and routine reviews and updates to policy.
- Review and update the documentation, policy, training, and supervisory oversight related to the
pointing of firearms at a person.
- Conduct an independent audit of CSPD use of force training to ensure content, quality, and
duration of use of force training is meeting industry best practices.
- Enhance transparency through the timely release of information to the community to improve
public confidence and trust.
- Continue to enhance supervision, accountability & oversight related to use of force.
- Review and make appropriate changes to use of force data collection to meet best practices.
- Work internally and externally to continually reduce racial/ethnic disparities in use of force