In 2019, Chief Todd Axtell and the Saint Paul Police Department released a report on use-of-force incidents in 2016 and 2017. The report marked the first time in the department’s history that a comprehensive accounting of incidents in which force was used has been made publicly available. Since then, the department has continued to record, monitor and release data about when, why and how officers use force.
It's part of an unwavering commitment to transparency.
The report includes information about the number of times physical force was used in recorded incidents, types of physical force used, demographics of those involved in the incidents, what behavior led to force being used, injuries as a result of force, firearm discharges, and excessive force complaints. It also includes data on firearms pointing, which is not a physical application of force but still considered a reportable use of force by the department.
According to Police Chief Todd Axtell, making the information publicly available is part of the department’s ongoing commitment to building community trust through transparency.
“We’re entrusted with protecting public safety and enforcing laws, and sometimes that requires the use of reasonable, necessary force,” he said. “It’s important for our community to understand how rare it is for our officers to use force and to know that we’re transparent, accountable and committed to de-escalation whenever possible.”
Key findings of the report include:
- In 2016, officers recorded 269,799 incidents and used force 458 times;
- In 2017, officers recorded 300,610 incidents and used force 423 times;
- Force was used in 0.15 percent of the 570,409 recorded incidents in 2016 and 2017;
- Weaponless, non-injury causing techniques such as takedowns and escort holds were the most common types of physical force used in both 2016 and 2017; and
- There were seven excessive force complaints made in 2016 (one of which was sustained) and none in 2017—all were investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs Unit and presented to the city’s Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission.
The police department intends to release annual use-of-force reports as data is compiled.