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Rate of Force Used by the Police in Montgomery County, Maryland

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2002
100 pages
Publication Series
This report, an executive summary of the full report, describes the types and amount of force used by and against the police in Montgomery County, MD, for the 7 years between January 1993 to December 1999.
The study used official records on the use of force as well as arrests maintained by the Montgomery County Department of the Police. These data provide an especially valuable basis for understanding what constitutes a force incident and how the use of various types of force varied over time and circumstances. The use of a rate of force, which this report defines as the number of force incidents per 100 adult custody arrests, provides a rigorous empirical basis for understanding recent police behavior, assessing departmental policies and practices, and testing theories about police behavior. The study found that the use of force by Montgomery County police officers was infrequent and that changes in reporting practices were apparently responsible for some of the increases in the total number of use-of-force reports in 1999. In every year from 1993 to 1999, the most frequent type of force used by officers involved the use of hands and feet only. Over this same period, the second most frequent type of force reported was the use of OC spray. From 1993 to 1998, the use of canines was the third most frequent type of force used by officers. Hands and feet were the most frequent types of force used by suspects. Two percent of all use-of-force incidents involved firearms or knives. Suspects were injured in just over half of all use-of-force incidents. The typical types of injuries involved exposure to OC spray, lacerations, and dog bites. Officers were injured in just under 25 percent of their use-of-force reports. These typically involved bruises or blunt trauma, lacerations, sprains, and abrasions. Two gunshot wounds were received, both in 1994. The number of officers injured increased from 1993 to 1999; the percentage of officers injured peaked in 1997. The rate of any force over the 1993-99 period was 6.4 incidents of force for every 100 arrests. Extensive tabular and graphic data

Date Published: March 1, 2002