Serious use of force incidents by Detroit police jump 70%

May 21, 2021, 10:34 AM by  Violet Ikonomova

Detroit Police Vehicle Stock Image 3/10/21

Detroit police are using more aggressive tactics in confrontations with citizens despite calls for a new approach in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, department data reported by the Free Press shows.

While the overall rate at which officers use force has fluctuated (The Detroit News reported early this month that use of force cases were up 23% in 2020 over 2019, and the Freep reports they're down so far this year over the same period in 2020), the one constant has been a rise in Category 1 incidents, or those that involve guns, tasers, and/or result in death or serious injury. 

Here's the breakdown presented yesterday at a meeting of the department's oversight board: 

So far this year, the city has seen 17 so-called Category 1 incidents ...

... nearly half involved guns. Category 1 incidents are up 70%, from 10 last year to the current number of 17, which include: 

1 fatal shooting
2 nonfatal shootings
2 shots fired
3 unintentional discharge of a weapon
5 Taser incidents
1 critical vehicle pursuit
4 other

"There really weren’t any substantive changes (in use-of-force incidents) … however, there was a substantial increase in gun-related arrests in 2021 compared to 2020,"  DPD director Reid Branche-Wilson told the commissioners in explaining the quarterly report.

The News meanwhile found Category 1 incidents were up 41 percent in 2020 over the year prior.

It's unclear how many of these incidents were deemed justifiable, leaving open the question of why this is happening.

Outgoing Police Chief James Craig has spun a narrative about suspects emboldened by the Black Lives Matter movement, while civil rights activists have maintained police are emboldened by laws and union provisions that shield them from accountability. The increase in Category 1 incidents by officers coincides with an overall rise in violent crime in the city.

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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