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."
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, 28 Feb 2022)
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.
Frequency of Incidents
There were 35 reported use of force incidents in 2022. This total is consistent with the prior 2 years of use of force incidents in 2020 (35) and 2021 (42). This data will be routinely monitored for trends.
Over the past three years (2020-2022), the Fishers Police Department had 112 total use of force incidents, equating to 1 use of force incident for every 1,341 calls for service. This is a use of force incident rate of 0.075%. In 2020 the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 1.9% of individuals who have encounters with police experience the threat or use of nonfatal force.1
1 Contacts between police and the public, 2020 - bjs.ojp.gov. (2022, November). Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https:// https://bjs.ojp.gov/library/publications/contacts-between-police-and-public-2020
U.S. Department of Justice. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Special Report NCJ 304527 (p. 5) (tbl. 3)
Over the same 3 years (2020-2022), 1.8% of the use of force incidents resulted in complaints against the Fishers Police Department. There were 2 total complaints originating from the 112 use of force incidents over the past 3 years.
Common Contributing Factors
More than half of the use of force incidents (55%) over the past 3 years involved drugs and/or alcohol. The poor judgment and erratic behavior of intoxicated individuals can increase the likelihood of force needed to be used in an incident.
Twenty-two percent (22%) 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, 05 Nov 2021).
White males were involved in the majority (51%) of total use of force incidents in Fishers the last 3 years (2020-2022). Overall, males were 68% of total incidents and white was listed as the race in 74% of incidents. The average age of an individual involved in a use of force incident was about 29 years old, with 58% involving individuals 30 years old or younger.
Types of Force
Physical force, most often used to restrain a suspect resisting arrest, was noted as the maximum force used in 83% of Fishers use of force incidents from 2020-2022. A taser was used in 16 (14%) 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, 28 Feb 2022)
Officers are trained to use the minimum force that overcomes resistance, while minimizing the likelihood of inflicting injury. In 2020-2022, 34% (38 of 112) of the individuals who experienced a use of force incident reported an injury during the incident. Hospital treatment for injuries resulted in 5 of the 112 (4.5%) incidents, with no major injuries reported. The most frequent injury types reported in the 38 use of force incidents with injuries were minor scrapes from being restrained. In those same 112 incidents, officers reported injuries in 17 (15.2%) cases.