St. Paul Police Department releases first use-of-force report in effort of transparency

The St. Paul police use-of-force report is the first of its kind to come from the department. 

The 19-page report released Friday breaks down data from the number of use-of-force incidents to the types of calls that resulted in use of force. It’s all in an effort to increase transparency.

“This report is following through on one of those commitments,” said St. Paul Polcie Sgt. Mike Ernster. “[The chief is] committed to releasing data about our police department, and that data this time is going to be our use-of-force report.” 

According to the report in 2016 and 2017, officers responded to 570,409 calls for service. Of those calls, 877 resulted in use-of-force. 

The report shows nine officers were involved in four officer-involved shootings in those two years. More than half of the use-of-force incidents involved officers with five or fewer years experience. Most of the subjects of use-of-force were African-American men. 

“It's what I expected, I guess, just from working in the neighborhood with community people and taking complaints over the years,” said St. Paul NAACP President Dianne Binns. "Not just the last two years, I’ve been doing this since 1989.”

Of the use-of-force incidents in 2016 and 2017, 471 involved African-Americans, 281 were white, 75 Hispanic and 60 Asian.

"We will obviously look through how this affects certain communities, but we’re basically working off behavior at that point,” said Sgt. Ernster.

For Binns, the release of this information is encouraging, but she says the community and the department need to work together to make that number smaller. 

"It’s a lot better than what it used to be, but it’s got a long way to go yet,” said Binns. “We have not made it to the mountain top, and as we can see from this report we haven’t.” 

The age range where most force was used was 20 to 29 years old. More than 30 percent of the people in which force was used weren't arrested. 

The department is now working on the numbers for 2018.