New York City police using firearms at lowest rate on record
NEW YORK — The New York Police Department said Wednesday that officers are using Tasers more frequently, while firing on suspects fell to the lowest level since the department began tracking the use of force.
The department’s 2017 use-of-force report showed that officers opened fire 52 times last year, a 28 percent decrease from previous year. But officers fatally shot 10 suspects last year, an increase from nine in 2016.
Police officers’ use of Tasers, meanwhile, jumped about 45 percent last year to 728 incidents. The department attributed that increase to a wider deployment of stun guns among the ranks.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the statistics reflect improvements in the department’s use-of-force policies, which were reformed in 2016 to require more detailed reporting of incidents involving police force.
“NYPD cops are among the most restrained law enforcement officers in the United States when it comes to using force in the performance of their duties,” O’Neill said in a statement.
O’Neill also noted that the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board last year recorded the fewest police-force complaints in more than a decade.
Chris Dunn, legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said his organization is “very concerned” with the department’s rising use of Tasers. He noted that nearly a third of 728 Taser incidents in 2017 involved officers seeking to control an emotionally disturbed person.
“It runs the risk of seriously damaging people already in trauma,” Dunn said.