Use of Force

The use of force by law enforcement personnel is a matter of critical concern, both to the public and to the law enforcement community.

On a daily basis, officers are involved in numerous and varied interactions and, when warranted, may use reasonable force in carrying out their duties. Officers must have an understanding of, and true appreciation for, their authority and limitations. This is especially true with respect to overcoming resistance while engaged in the performance of their law enforcement duties. The Department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone.

Data

FBI National Use Of Force Data Collection Program

In January 2019, the FBI launched the National Use of Force Data Collection Program in an effort to promote conversations regarding use of force incidents and offer a comprehensive nationwide view of the circumstances, subjects, and officers involved in these incidents. The program collects information from incidents involving the discharge of a firearm by a law enforcement officer at or in the direction of a person. It also collects information on incidents involving serious bodily injury to a person or fatality to a person connected to the use of force by a law enforcement officer. Currently, about half of all nationwide police departments are supplying use of force data to the FBI. The Vancouver Police Department is among those agencies reporting use of force data to the program and has been since the program’s inception in January 2019. More information about the FBI’s National Use of Force Data Collection Program can be found online.

What is a Force Incident?

A force incident is any incident where an officer applies force to a subject. A force incident can involve one or more officers and one or more applications of force. The Vancouver Police Department trains officers to use de-escalation tactics, if possible, prior to using reasonable force where the force is necessary to: protect against criminal conduct where there is probable cause to make an arrest, effect an arrest, prevent an escape, or to protect against an imminent threat of bodily injury or death to the peace officer, another person or the person against who force is being used. Graham v. Connor [(1989) 490 U.S. 386, 109S Ct. 1865]) is a part of the decision making process an officer must go through before during and after using force.”

Use of Force Report Terms and Definitions

Force Application
The application of physical techniques or tactics, chemical agents or weapons to another person. It is not a use of force when a person allows him/herself to be searched, escorted, handcuffed or restrained.

Force Incident
Any incident where an officer applies force to a subject. A force incident may involve one or more officers and/or one or more force applications.

Dispatched Event
Events dispatched by the CRESA (Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency) dispatch center as calls for service or officer-initiated activities.

Call for Service
Any event initiated by a community member by calling 911 and dispatched by CRESA.

Officer-Initiated Activity
Events or activities initiated by an officer. These can include traffic stops, consent contacts, search warrant services, among other activities.

Force Effectiveness
Force applications are determined to be effective when their application successfully gains a subject’s compliance or physical control.

Officer-Involved Shooting
Any incident in which an officer discharges a firearm at another person. These incidents may include one or more officers, one or more firearm discharges, and/or one or more force applications.

  • Officer Involved Shooting Incidents
    Firearm discharges are subject to a different investigation and review process given the potentially fatal nature of the force application. Officer involved shooting incidents are investigated by an Independent Investigative Team (IIT), led by an uninvolved agency. Upon completion of its investigation, the IIT forwards the investigation to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review. Upon completion of the IIT investigation, Vancouver Police Department conducts an internal administrative investigation to determine if the actions taken by the officer(s) were within policy.

2022 Q3 Use of Force Overview

  • The total number of use of force incidents and dispatched events in the period is provided.
  • The Force Incidents per Month column chart provides the number of use of force incidents in a given month of the period.
  • The Force Incidents per Thousand Dispatched Events line chart provides the rate of force incidents per 1,000 dispatched events in a given month of the period.
  • The Force Incidents by Dispatched Event Initiation Type provides the percentage of force incidents that were originally initiated by a call for service or a self-initiated officer activity.

2022 Q3 Subject Demographics

This page provides subject demographic characteristics. The charts provide the number of force incidents involving subjects of a particular race, gender, ethnicity, and age category. The percentage of force incidents involving subjects exhibiting symptoms of mental illness at the time of a force incident is also provided.

2022 Q3 Injuries and Force Applications

  • A force incident may involve one or more officers and/or one or more applications of force. Similarly, force subjects and officers may experience one or more injuries. Firearm discharges incidents are subject to different reporting practices given the external investigation process conducted by an Independent Investigative Team (IIT). For this reason, these incidents are recorded and provided separately from other force incidents.
  • The Force Applications and Force Effectiveness Outcome by Force Categories bar chart provides the number of incidents involving a particular type of force use and the number of incidents where the force application was considered effective or ineffective.
  • The number of unique subjects and unique officers injured are provided. The Officer Injuries column chart provides the total number of injuries experienced by officers. The Subject Injuries column chart provides the total number of injuries experienced by subjects. Both officers and subjects may have experienced no injuries, one injury, or multiple injuries. In these two charts, each injury is counted once per injury category enabling one officer/subject to be represented more than once across categories.
  • The number of officers involved in shooting incidents is provided. Subject injuries from firearm discharges are provided in the Firearm Discharge Subject Injury column chart.

2022 Q3 Force Incident Characteristics

  • The bar chart titled Reasons Provided for Force Application provides the number of incidents listing the reason that force was applied to a subject. Officers may provide one or more reasons per force incident.
  • The Subject Behaviors Leading to Force Application bar chart provides the frequency of incidents where the subject was reported to be exhibiting a particular condition. One or more subject conditions may be reported in a given force incident.
Study

Project Overview

As a professional law enforcement agency, the Vancouver Police Department is always looking at ways to improve how we conduct business and seek opportunities to implement best practices through policies, training and procedures so that we are providing the best possible service to our community.

In early 2019, the Vancouver Police Department was involved in four officer-involved shootings within a four week period. The unusual number of incidents in a short timeframe drew significant public attention. In an effort to address community concerns, and to ensure that the department policies and training practices are meeting the highest standards, a decision was made to bring in a third party consultant to review department policies around use of force.

A request for proposal was issued and after review of the submitting organizations, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) was selected to conduct this study.

PERF Qualifications

PERF is a nonprofit national law enforcement membership organization that has, over the past 40 years, conducted over 250 comprehensive management studies of law enforcement agencies across the United States and is recognized as a national leader in the field of use of force and police accountability, specializing in research of policies, practices, and operations of police departments. You can find out more about the Police Executive Research Forum at perf.memberclicks.net/

Project Goals

PERF’s work will be tailored specifically to the needs of the Vancouver Police Department and will consist of the following tasks:

  • Review of VPD organizational culture surrounding use of force
  • Review of VPD policies and procedures relating to use of force and supervisory roles and responsibilities in use of force incidents
  • Review of VPD training, tactics and tools
  • Analysis and descriptive statistics of recent VPD use of force incidents and case files
  • Evaluation of existing verbal de-escalation training

Cost

The PERF review cost is $98,750.

Timeline

PERF representatives conducting this study will be in Vancouver for their first onsite visit the week of September 9, 2019. The study will consist of onsite and telephone interviews and focus groups with a cross-section of department personnel, elected officials, community members and representatives from the Chief’s Diversity Advisory Team. The review process and the final report is estimated to take approximately nine months.

Community Engagement Opportunities

Community engagement opportunities for the PERF use of force study as well as other law enforcement related topics relevant to this study.  

Community Resources

PERF email to send input regarding use of force study: VPDReview@policeforum.org