NYPD Pledges to Track and Report Every Time Officers Use Force

By Kenrya Rankin Oct 02, 2015

The NYPD has unveiled a new use of force policy—one that Police Commissioner William Bratton says is the future of American policing.

The announcement came on the same day that Inspector General for the NYPD Philip Eure released a report that examined 179 use of force cases and concluded that the NYPD does not effectively track use of force, doesn’t adequately train officers to deescalate situations and doesn’t discipline cops who use excessive force. NYPD officers’ excessive use of force has been linked to the deaths of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley, and the recent assault of tennis star James Blake

The new policy—which Bratton said at a press conference was not prompted by the release of the inspector general’s report—will go into effect in early 2016. It sets the following in motion:

  • The department will recognize several categories of force, organized by the level of force used and the severity of injury to the civilian. 
  • Officers will be required to file a “Force Incident Report” every time they come into physical contact with a civilian or use pepper spray, a Taser or a gun—even when it doesn’t result in an arrest.
  • Officers will record all instances of force used against them.
  • All incidents will be investigated by an internal 54-person “Force Investigation Division,” and the results will be reported via an annual public report.
  • Institution of a “duty to intervene,” which means officers who don’t step in when another cop is using excessive force will face disciplinary action. They are also required to seek medical assistance for civilians.

“What we’re developing here could become the national template for how do you not only investigate all levels of use of force, but how do you report it in a way that it is transparent,” Bratton told The New York Times

Meanwhile, Eure says the plan only addresses the lack of tracking for use of force, and that the department still has work to do. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement in support of the new policy, which includes the following passage:

The power of the new use-of-force policy reforms Commissioner Bratton announced today sends a message to all New Yorkers that we’re going to enforce the law, but we’re going to do it in a way that only uses that force which is necessary. The analysis will provide transparency, empower the City to track precisely what is happening, and then make needed adjustments. This is a key part of our efforts to implement a proactive neighborhood policing vision, and deepen the connection between police and the community.