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Colorado Springs Police ‘use of force’ report presented to city council

cspd use of force report
KRDO NewsChannel 13

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

Click here to read the full report.

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

Comments

8 Comments

  1. Didn’t see anything about whether use of force was justified,or not, only that it was used. Sometimes force is required to control the arrestee.

    1. And the reason is, this group that filed the report only looked at the raw numbers of these instances. They are not a Grand Jury panel investigating every occurrence to validate if they were warranted and justified. That would never be able to be completed if that is what your counter-argument is to this data. Common sense.

        1. Your statement is conjecture at best, and serves no purpose to this discussion without proof. Furthermore, your conjecture does not invalidate my logical and easily understood reason why it is not done, hence why I stated the reason it is not in this report.

    2. “Sometimes force is required to control the arrestee.”
      .
      Particularly true when dealing with a faction of society who’s culture is based on being resistive to “the white man” or authority.

  2. “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.”
    .
    And that invalidates the whole study. That is an incorrect correlation. You need to compare it to the racial demographics of those breaking the law, and the demographics of those resisting officers.
    .
    There was once a study done of the New Jersey State Police that said they were racist because they were stopping black motorists at a disparate rate. But they were comparing the stop statistics with the demographics of the entire population. Then another group came in with radar trailers and high speed cameras and found that black motorist were speeding at a disparate rate. In fact, the higher the speed was, the higher the percentage of black drivers involved. Once the statistics of the stops were compared to the demographics of those who were speeding, it was found the State Police were NOT racist or stopping blacks at a disparate rate.

    1. Yep.
      When the majority of crimes are committed by a certain demographic then it is safe to say that that particular demographic would have higher arrest rates and physical force rates. It has nothing to do with population.

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