Columbia police drew firearms, tasers more often in 2015

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department released new numbers in an internal affairs report on Monday showing officers increased firearm and Taser use in 2015.

The new report said officers drew their firearms 197 times, 47 more times than in 2014. The use of Tasers increased from 32 times in 2014 to 37 times in 2015.

Sgt. Brian Tate said the department is constantly tracking these incidents.

"We stressed to our officers the importance of making sure we do report that because it is a use of force," Tate said. 

The report said the department encountered resistance 350 times last year, meaning officers had to use one of the following techniques to overcome it:

  • Officers used joint manipulation on 61 occasions.
  • Officers used a Kinetic Energy Impact Device on 1 occasion.
  • Officers used strikes on 17 occasions.
  • Officers used pepper spray on 26 occasions.
  • Officers used canine bites on 0 occasions.
  • Officers handcuffed subjects on 144 occasions (without resulting in a formal arrest).
  • Officers used “Impact Weapon Other” on 1 occasion.
  • Officers usedaTaser® on 37 occasions.
    • 12 Taser® Deployment/Drive Stun
    • 25 Laser Display/Arc Display/Exhibit Taser®
  • Officers used pressure point techniques on 8 occasions.
  • Officers used other physical force on 61 occasions.
  • Officers used balance displacement on 142 occasions.
  • Officers drew/exhibited their firearms on 197 occasions.
  • Officers fired their weapon in defense of self or others on 1 occasion.

Police Chief Kenneth Burton said the department does not refer to these incidents as "use of force."

"We decided to change our policies from reading 'use of force,'" Burton said. "Police officers do not use force. Police officers respond to resistance. So whatever the citizen or contact does, they control whether or not a police officer uses force and whether that force is escalated."

The police department also released data on "citizen contacts," which includes incoming calls as well as calls the department initiates.

The numbers show the combination of the two figures went down from 153,784 in 2014 to 146,683 in 2015.

Numbers show arrests decreased from 4,704 in 2014 to 4,351 in 2015. 

"Not a big number, but we always want our arrests to be down obviously, so if people aren't committing crimes, we aren't going to make the arrests," Tate said.

CPD said citizen and internal complaints increased from 19 in 2014 to 41 in 2015.

Tate said, "I can tell you that our three top complaints were for excessive force, for being rude, discourteous, and for performance, meaning they should have done a report and they didn't or the individual didn't like how they handled their call."

CPD uploaded a video from the news conference to it's YouTube channel.