Use of Force
An officer who applies force through the use of lethal or less lethal weapons or applies weaponless physical force to overcome a suspect’s resistance shall immediately notify his/her supervisor. In the case of a weaponless physical force, overcoming resistance to move a suspect’s hands to the handcuffing position with no other technique does not qualify.
What Does the Term "Use of Force" Mean?
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, use of force is "that amount of effort required by police to compel compliance from an unwilling subject."
The International Association of Chiefs of Police collaborated with 10 other organizations to develop the National Consensus Discussion Paper on Use of Force.
According to Fishers Police Department policy: "Officers are authorized to use department approved, non-deadly force techniques and issued equipment to:
a. Protect the officer or others from physical harm;
b. Restrain or subdue a resistant individual; and / or
c. Bring an unlawful situation safely and effectively under control”
(FPD G.O. 03, 21 Mar 2021)
An officer who applies force through the use of lethal or less lethal weapons or applies weaponless physical force to overcome a suspect’s resistance shall immediately notify his/her supervisor. In the case of weaponless physical force, overcoming resistance to move a suspect’s hands to the handcuffing position with no other technique does not qualify.
Frequency of Incidents
There were 35 reported use of force incidents in 2020. This total is consistent with the prior two years of use of force incidents in 2018 (33) and 2019 (40). This data will be routinely monitored for trends.
Over the past three years (2018 to 2020), the Fishers Police Department had 108 total use of force incidents, equating to one use of force incident for every 1,536 calls for service. This is a use of force incident rate of 0.065%. In 2015, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 1.6% of individuals who have encounters with police experience the threat or use of nonfatal force.
Over the same three years (2018 to 2020), 1.9% of the use of force incidents resulted in complaints against the Fishers Police Department. There were two total complaints originating from the 108 use of force incidents over the past three years.
Common Contributing Factors
More than half of the use of force incidents (56%) over the past three years involved drugs and/or alcohol. In 2020, there was also an increase in Calls for Service (CFS) at bars and taverns compared to the prior three years, increasing the number of police interactions with intoxicated individuals.
24% percent of use of force incidents resulted in an Immediate Detention (I.C. 12-26-4-1) disposition. Immediate Detentions (IDs) occur when a law enforcement officer, having reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is mentally ill, dangerous, and in immediate need of hospitalization and treatment, may apprehend and transport the individual to the nearest appropriate medical facility (FPD G.O. 59, 16 Nov 2020).
White males were involved in the majority (54%) of total use of force incidents in Fishers. Overall, males were 72% of total incidents and white was listed as the race in 73% of incidents. The average age of an individual involved in a use of force incident was about 28 years old, with 68% involving individuals 30 years old or younger.
Types of Force
Physical force was noted as the maximum force used in 81% of Fishers use of force incidents from 2018 to 2020. A taser was used in 16 (15%) of the incidents and none involved the discharging of a firearm.
It is the policy of the Fishers Police Department that officers use only the force that is reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control. It must be stressed that the use of force is not left to the unfettered discretion of the involved officer. This is not a subjective determination. The use of force must be objectively reasonable. The officer must only use that force which a reasonably prudent officer would use under the same or similar circumstances. (FPD G.O. 03, 21 Mar 2021)
Officers are trained to use the minimum force that overcomes resistance, while minimizing the likelihood of inflicting injury. In 2018 to 2020, 35% (38 of 108) of the individuals who experienced a use of force incident reported an injury during the incident. Hospital treatment resulted in 2 of the 108 (1.9%) incidents, with no major injuries reported. The most frequent injury types reported in the 38 use of force incidents with injuries were sore wrists from handcuff placement or minor scrapes from being restrained. In those same 108 incidents, 11 officers (10.1%) reported injuries.