New CNA Reports Address San Jose Police Department's Use of Force Incidents
Use of force data from the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) shows that the California city is moving in the right direction, but missteps and racial disparities are still evident during some interactions, according to a new report. CNA partnered with the City of San Jose to develop a review of SJPD's Use of Force. CNA’s use of force assessment included a review of documents, interviews, community listening sessions and quantitative analysis.
A team of researchers from CNA's Center for Justice Research and Innovation condensed their research into 39 findings and 51 aligned recommendations. Analysts found that 936 SJPD officers completed reports for 2,352 use of force events from February 2017 to February 2021. In roughly the same time period, there were approximately 327,000 face-to-face police community interactions resulting from a call for service, which means that 0.72% of police interactions resulted in a use of force report. This translates to one use of force event for every 120 interactions.
Summary of Key Findings:
- Many of the SJPD use of force policies reflect best practices in the field.
- The SJPD Duty Manual does not define levels of resistance and does not consistently indicate which level of resistance would justify various force options.
- The SJPD does not have a use of force review board.
- The SJPD does not provide sufficient clarity in the definition of force.
- The SJPD does not provide sufficient clarity on some elements related to electronic control weapons.
- The SJPD does not provide sufficient post-incident guidelines for officers, particularly for incidents involving lethal force.
- The SJPD Duty Manual does not contain sufficient instruction related to officers' duty to provide medical attention.
- The SJPD's current use of force reporting system is outdated.
- Black and Hispanic community members are arrested more frequently than would be predicted based on their proportion of San Jose's population compared with White community members; however, among those arrested, use of force levels for Black and Hispanic community members are similar to those for white community members.
- The number of use of force events did not increase during COVID-19 and social justice movements in early 2020. Both the number of calls for service and arrests were significantly lower during these events.
- SJPD officers used similar levels of force on Black, Asian, and white community members in regard to the amount of different types of force used, the severity of force, weapon discharges, community member injuries, and the number and severity of injuries. But in use of force incidents with Hispanic community members, SJPD officers were found to use more types of force, resulting in more severe injuries compared with incidents involving white community members.
Summary of Key Recommendations:
- The SJPD should better define levels of resistance and state the minimum resistance level needed for each use of force option.
- The SJPD should create a force review board or unit to identify policy, training, equipment, and personnel implications and include community representatives as part of its efforts.
- The SJPD should adopt a "physical coercion against resistance" definition of force.
- The SJPD should provide concrete prohibitions on the use of electronic control weapons.
- The SJPD should revise the Duty Manual to provide comprehensive guidance on post-incident requirements, particularly for incidents involving lethal force.
- The SJPD should use Section L 2610 (Providing First Aid) of the Duty Manual as a template for detailing the medical steps officers are required to take after using force.
- The SJPD should pursue implementation of a new use of force reporting system that allows for better information entry, case tracking, review, analyses, and summary report creation.
- The SJPD should look further into racial disparities found in the quantitative analyses, identify potential reasons for the differences, and - where reasons are identified - take remedial steps.
CNA has decades of experience assessing law enforcement policies, practices and performance to promote justice and equity. CNA has supported 450 law enforcement agencies nationwide in implementing 21st Century Policing best practices and has worked with 39 cities and counties in California through many law enforcement and emergency management projects and programs. CNA combines quantitative data analysis and community engagement in its police department reviews
For more information about the report, contact Liza Cordeiro at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-650-4456, or visit https://www.cna.org/centers/ipr/jri/police-reform to learn more about CNA's organizational reform and innovation in policing work.
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