110 South Main Street
Springville, UT 84663
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USE OF FORCE – OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTINGS
Springville Police Department is very aware of the concern many citizens feel about what is perceived as “excessive force” used by police officers in the United States. Citizens in Springville can rest assured that we, as a department, make great efforts to ensure the safety of both the public and our officers. We train our officers in what is a proper use of force, and carefully monitor the amount of force our officers use in every arrest.
As a part of that monitoring, Springville Police Department participates in a county-wide Officer Involved Incident Protocol Team. This team consists of investigators from the Utah County Attorney’s Office and from experienced investigators from agencies throughout Utah County. The “rules” of the Protocol Team can be seen here: OIS protocol 2015/10/19.
In addition to following the above protocols, Springville reviews the level of force used by our officers each month. The review includes making sure that our officers follow the laws of the State of Utah and that their use of force is reasonable and justifiable.
WHAT’S REAL, WHAT’S IN THE MOVIES
Most of us gather our information on the justifiable use of force by watching television shows and by going to the movies. High speed chases, gun battles and knock-down dragged-out fights are so common in those two forms of media entertainment that one would think that officers go through them on a daily basis. Each week our favorite stars are shooting their handguns, dodging bullets from machine guns and driving fast cars through the city streets without regard for the public! Even when we are watching the local news broadcasts we are exposed to police shootings and claims of ‘excessive force’ which have happened, not in our own community but worldwide! These incidents spread like wildfire, and become instantly news-worthy. They are picked up and spread through communities via the internet, sometimes taking on a life of their own. Years-old stories become today’s news, only because they recirculate. All of this leading to the perception that police involved shootings and excessive force claims are frequent or even commonplace occurrences everywhere. Looking only at the news or the entertainment media, or postings on various websites, it becomes easy to believe that such events are occurring all around us… when the facts show that most police officers will never be involved in a gunfight, at any time during an entire twenty year career. Not ever.
So, how do we do when it comes to the level of force used while making arrests? In 2014, which is a pretty typical year, Springville officers made more than one thousand arrests. In 95% of those arrests, officers used no physical force at all… unless you consider telling someone they are under arrest and then placing them in handcuffs is a level of force. Another three percent of those arrested offered some minor physical resistance, and a level of force listed as “minimal” to “moderate” physical resistance was used to make the arrest. That means our officers had to restrain them using control holds or by holding onto their arms tightly. No punches. No kicks. No nightsticks. Not even any furniture thrown through windows!
Watch the news and the entertainment media and you would think officers love to use tasers. That ‘bubble’ gets burst when you look at the actual statistical data. In more than one thousand arrests, officers pointed tasers at four people being arrested. Two of those immediately decided to comply with the instructions of the officers, and two of them did not. At least not until the officers actually used their tasers. And all four of those cases equaled less than four tenths of one percent of our more than one thousand arrests in 2014!
Another exciting, but totally false narrative, involves the use of firearms in law enforcement. Certainly our officers, while serving high risk warrants or stopping felony suspects (such as persons who have committed an armed robbery or who are driving stolen cars) are arrested using what is called a “felony stop.” During those stops and arrest or search warrants, our officers display their firearms, giving clear instructions to the suspects being arrested, and insisting on compliance. They do so to prevent injuries to themselves, the general public and to the suspects involved. Each person arrested in such cases will have the level of force used listed as “Firearm Displayed.” During the calendar year of 2014, a total eighteen persons were arrested after officers displayed their firearms. That is less than two percent of all arrests. No officer pulled their trigger, no one was shot, there were no gun battles while officers chased bad guys through downtown streets at high speeds, no one hanging out of windows with machine guns… none of those really exciting yet totally unrealistic scenes from television and movies.
And the citizens in Springville can be assured that in each case where officers displayed a weapon, displayed or used a taser, used physical force to obtain compliance… where a canine officer from another agency or the inter-agency SWAT team was called in to help… in each and every such case, a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the amount of force used are thoroughly reviewed to make sure our officers are providing professional, Constitutional and reasonable law enforcement for our community.
Finally, we regularly report these statistics and findings are regularly to the Mayor and City Council, so that the people of Springville can be comfortable that we are doing our best to serve our community.