FPD Interceptor (copy)

The Frederick Police Department emblem is featured on the side of an interceptor vehicle.

Frederick police have gradually increased their use of force in recent years, with Black people being the subject of nearly half of all uses of force, according to annual reports.

Total use of force incidents reported by city police more than doubled from 58 incidents in 2016 to 144 reported the next year, according to an examination of the department’s data. Since then, use of force incidents have increased every year, capping off at 174 last year, the data shows.

The reports also indicate that Black and African-Americans make up a much higher number of individuals subjected to force compared to their representation in population estimates. While Black people only made up about 18 percent of the city’s population in 2019 Census estimates, they accounted for about 45 percent of the individuals force was used on in the police department’s records for 2019.

The department is scheduled to address its use of force data in a presentation to the mayor and Board of Aldermen during its virtual workshop Wednesday.

The department maintains that no troubling trends were noted “based on any particular characteristic of race, sex, or ethnicity,” in its 2019 use of force summary.

Lt. Sean Carr, who commands the agency’s Professional Services Division that oversees use of force data collection, said comparing population data to arrest or force data is irrelevant as city residency does not factor into how officers make judgments in potential force scenarios.

“The numbers in the report reflect only arrests and are not intertwined with the residency of any citizen. The Frederick Police Department responds to many calls and self-initiated activity with individuals who reside both within the city limits as well as outside the city limits,” Carr stated in an email response to The Frederick News-Post’s questions. “The residence of the individual has no direct correlation with the officer’s response as every interaction is dynamic and individualistic.”

But while residency may be irrelevant to the department, Black people still made up about 49 percent of the individuals city officers reported using force on in 2018 and about 43 percent of those subjected to force in 2017, the department’s data shows.

Carr cited the many steps the department takes to evaluate each use of force against the department’s training and policies.

Every use of force is reviewed by the chain of command, Training Unit and Professional Services Division of the officer who used force, Carr wrote. The review will determine if the use of force followed compliance.

While the police department has more cases of use of force than previous years, the number of complaints has remained relatively steady. The department received six complaints about use of force in 2019, down from nine in 2018 and eight in 2017.

But Willie Mahone, the president of the Frederick County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, disagrees with Carr’s assertion that the department is fair and equal with respect to race, pointing at the use of force numbers as proof.

“I think we have a racialized policing and that’s not something new. I think maybe about 15 years ago we looked at reports in terms of [traffic] stops and it showed the same thing,” Mahone said when reached for comment about the numbers. “Either that or there is something inherent in the African-American community that somehow warrants a different kind of policing.”

Mahone said he believes the numbers themselves aren’t as important as they would be with additional context, such as the types of calls which led to uses of force and how race is reflected in that breakdown, or the types of force used by race.

While both the Frederick Police Department and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office provide analysis in their use of force reports of the most common types of force used and call types, neither agency broke those categories down further into race or ethnicity in their published reports.

“I think the data on its face raises questions, but I think there needs to be further delving and additional inquiry into these incidents, because it would give us a better understanding of the situation,” Mahone said.

While use of force incidents by county sheriff’s deputies dropped from 143 in 2018 to just 115 last year, the agency’s data also showed Blacks and African-Americans made up a higher number of those subjected to force than their representation in the county’s population.

Of the 75 people who were subjected to force by sheriff’s deputies last year, 25 were Black, according to the sheriff’s office’s annual report on use of force for 2019. Black men and women also made up 43 percent of those subjected to force by deputies in 2018. According to 2019 Census estimates, Black residents make up about 10 percent of the county’s overall population.

Addressing those numbers, Lt. Col. Scot Hopkins pointed out that, while the majority of the county’s population is white, the sheriff’s office receives more calls for service from the southern portion of the county, which is also where the most use of force incidents occurred, according to the 2019 report.

“Those areas there have more of a diverse community than the rest of the county and we’ve got more deputies deployed there due to the higher volume of calls that we receive from that area,” Hopkins said. “There are more businesses that call us more often, there are more crashes, just more calls for service in general.”

Hopkins and Lt. Jason Null, who compiles the sheriff’s office’s annual use of force reports, also pointed out the strict oversight and review that the agency dedicates to each use of force reported by a deputy. In much the same way city police review their own data, reports from officers who have used force are passed along to their supervisors and reviewed for compliance along with other information from the call.

Beyond that, annual force reports are also used to try to reduce future uses of force, Null said. For example, if the agency notices a higher number of force incidents stemming from calls that involve people suffering a mental health crisis, commanders can use that data to direct more training for deputies to better handle those types of calls, he said.

“Ultimately, how do you reduce use of force? There are going to be some times where force has to be used, and that’s not decided by the deputy, that can be something that is decided by the individual that we’re dealing with ... But it comes down to training,” Null said. “You can reduce it by de-escalation training, by being able to talk to people, especially people going through a mental health crisis.”

Mahone also posited several ideas for reducing uses of force and helping local law enforcement build trust within minority communities. In addition to a closer examination of the use of force numbers, which Mahone suggested as a step that can take place immediately, independent civilian review boards with some level of oversight and authority to review allegations of misconduct would also help.

“We need community control of police, and that warrants discussion, because there are different models in different jurisdictions, but ultimately it involves having community representatives involved in all aspects of policing, and that includes the hiring of police officers and the discipline of police, including the chief of police and other critical aspects of the policing,” Mahone said.

Local law enforcement officials, including former Frederick police Chief Ed Hargis and representatives with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 91, a union that represents city officers, have expressed reluctance and opposition to such independent boards in the past, saying civilians lack the training and experience to properly oversee officers. But, Mahone said he feels that community oversight is critical.

“Police officers are responsible to the community itself,” Mahone said.

Follow Jeremy Arias on Twitter: @Jarias_Prime.

Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(28) comments

hn_181

FCSO shared their full Use of Force report and stats yesterday afternoon on their Facebook page and website. Those numbers tell the real story and show the facts, unlike this article.

https://www.frederickcountymd.gov/DocumentCenter/View/326837/2019-UOF-Analysis?fbclid=IwAR2jCS_SaJsG-ITqoumxAn2d_L9LT7qcu-mCdHPP9IFphoWR6Ezc63OYr5U

https://www.facebook.com/FrederickCoSheriff/posts/3266630196722901

NedRyerson

FNP, statements like this "The reports also indicate that Black and African-Americans make up a much higher number of individuals subjected to force compared to their representation in population estimates." are so misleading because crime demographics do not match population demographics. How do use of force demographics compare to crime demographics? The FBI unified crime reports show that blacks commit higher percentages of crime nationally than their representative population percentage.

LeonardKeepers

to me if a person resists or goes at a police office he has the right to use force,how much force would depend on how much and how hard that person does during the altercation.the action the officer took in the Floyd case was wrong,the shooting of the man in Atlanta who went at the officer with a taser was justified. even a black civil rights lawyer has deemed it justified. according to Georgia law a teaser is considered a lethal we-open. Killing of these two men does not give these people the right to riot pillage and kill.lets see if the fnp deletes this comment and article.

DickD

Shooting a man in the back is not justified! And that taser had already been fired twice, is not accurate over 10 feet and not effective over 15 feet. The officer knew all that! It was murder!

phydeaux994

pants on fire LeonardKeepers....it took me about 30 seconds to check your tasers are illegal in Georgia.

RRR(RadicalRightRepublicans) MAKE STUFF UP....

***The State of Georgia doesn’t regulate stun guns or Tasers, and most people may carry one of these weapons almost everywhere. But felons aren’t allowed to have Tasers, and anyone could be charged with a crime for using either a stun gun or Taser as an offensive weapon.***

reds2193

Typical article from the FNP, stirring the pot and creating unnecessary/unfounded hate towards the police department.

PurplePickles

Hopkins and Lt. Jason Null, who compiles the sheriff’s office’s annual use of force reports, also pointed out the strict oversight and review that the agency dedicates to each use of force reported by a deputy. Strict oversight from an agency run by the police, so how strict are we talking?

So we are supposed trust data that the cops complied themselves? Really? Who would do that? Nope cops have never ever lied about anything.

Who watches the Watchmen?

DickD

The problem I have with percentage is it doesn't tell the real story. How about separating them by reason of force. For instance :

Police officer attacked by knife or gun.

Police officer acted to save a life.

Individual resisted arres.

Anything else would just result in a quota and it could result in being less safe for all.

MD1756

Your correct Dick but I don't think your comment goes far enough. Poor data collection and poor use of the data can be just as bad as no collection at all and doesn't really help anyone as it may lead to identification of problems that don't really exist and fail to identify problems that do exist and need to be addressed. I would sometimes run into that problem at the US EPA with management. In one particular case they were trying to say agencies (federal and state environmental compliance programs) needed to do better targeting of inspections under the hazardous waste regulations. I kept trying to point out that targeting inspections didn't matter when inspection rates were defined by statute or policy and more importantly evidence showed that a number of inspectors were not finding violations that existed at the facilities inspected. The problem was not targeting the inspection but the quality of the inspections themselves. People used the data incorrectly and without proper understanding of the program and were coming up with incorrect conclusions.

As was mentioned in the article and your comment, other data/factors need to be looked at. For example, one obvious thing to look at (for which the data should exist and be broken out) is a comparison of force used to arrest rates. For example, if backs made up 45% of those arrested then the issue may not be the use of force since it matched the percent of those arrested, the issue might be why are blacks arrested more frequently than others. Also to compare over time one needs to look at the alleged crimes one is being arrested for. If jaywalking arrests have gone up and assaults have gone down, I would expect the use of force to go down. On the other hand if armed assaults, carjackings etc. have gone up and jay walking arrests have gone down, I would expect that the use of force may go up if the suspects resist arrest, refuse to comply with orders to put down weapons, etc.

The complete data and factors need to be looked at and reports should be extremely cautious in reporting partial information as that may lead to unintended problems especially during this current cultural climate.

bosco

MD1756, [thumbup].

PurplePickles

Until we have community oversight we will never have accurate data from the police, your post proves why we need community oversight, then we may see the truth, until then this is all the truth we are allowed to know. It's in the police unions best interests to allow only the truth that paints them in the best light. but should all know by now that the truth is often hard to come by from the police.

MD1756

My post doesn't prove one way or the other of the need for community oversight of the police. If you do have community oversight (which may or may not be useful), you need to make sure the oversight is by qualified people (ones who can understand the issues, what data is needed, how to analyze the data, etc.). I have posted before that people who are interested in certain issues, should read the book "The Death of Expertise The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters" by Tom Nichols. It explains a number of problems we have when we choose not to listen to people who know the most about a particular subject.

KarlBickel

The numbers should be an eye opener, opening eyes to the need for closer examination. However, there should not be a knee-jerk reaction without knowing what is behind the numbers. As for civilian review/oversight which is mentioned, that should not be a knee-jerk reaction to numbers that may call for closer examination but don’t indicate a cause.

In the current environment civilian review/oversight may be coming down the road anyway and if so should be approached cautiously. There are many models and if there is serious thought in moving in that direction, all stakeholders should be at the table during development.

reds2193

Making another run for Sheriff Karl?

KarlBickel

All things are possible reds2740. That is a little ways off though leaning that way.

DickD

Let me know, I am with you!

KellyAlzan

Hope you do

Naliac

Anybody else notice the capitalization of the word Black while white isnt? Im sure that has nothing to do with pandering and is only a minor error repeated about 37 times.

As a white person, I dont really care. Just pointing it out for your enjoyment.

winger03

New guidelines from the AP. https://www.niemanlab.org/2020/06/ap-style-is-now-to-capitalize-black-and-indigenous/

bosco

So Black is an ethnic description and black is a color. Then White should also be an ethnic description and white a color.

Black and white, when in reality we are all just differing shades of brown.

[ninja]

MD1756

Technically when everyone traces their lineage back far enough, were are all of African heritage. We just got here by different routes.

LeBlancp01

Policing Transparency needs to be improved; As a member of the Fredrick Police Cief's Forum and a active NAC participant I suggest. 1) Chief's Forum meeting be made a Official City Open Meeting with Video recording/achieving so the broad public included the City Officials and staff can be better informed. There is a lot of important policing information being shared at these meeting including Police "Use of Force", Use of Firearms, Drug Policing. etc. etc. 2) NAC Police updates should include reporting on incidents of "Use of Force", Use of Cameras, and Use of Video in Court be City.

gdunn

City PD- over 5200 arrests last year only 170 required U of F. Wow, awesome work !

KellyAlzan

And no dogs were harmed

FrederickFan

So, what percentage of arrests or police interactions with people involve a use of force. Seems like basic info is missing from this story.

jsklinelga

Review of police tactics has been a continual practice since I can remember. An a valid necessity Police are men and women who daily face danger and harm from confronting criminals and/or people involved in inflamed situations. They are a rare breed that keep our society orderly and safe. More than ever they need our support and recognition of their bravery, commitment and overall temperament.

Studies like the one reviewed are needed but generalized comparisons of percentages is somewhat similar to comparing apples and oranges. Additional statistics would help. If you are going to break things down according to race what % of calls requiring police response involve whites or African Americans? What % of calls by a particular group are encountered with hostility which require deescalation or resultant use of force?

And the $64,000.00 question, most likely sheltered and prevented by political correctness: do the officers in general have a perception, developed through experience that one particular race causes and creates a more hostile encounter than another subset of people.

bosco

[thumbup] jsklinelga. [ninja]

MDchange

Completely agree with this comment. Well said.

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