The most serious use of force incidents by police officers are those that result in serious injury or death—obviously. But, even those that don’t—the shoves, baton hits, kicks, and take-downs—should be considered serious and looked at closely. A recent report from the L.A. Police Commission’s inspector general says information regarding these incidents, however, are seriously lacking and make it difficult, if not impossible to get an accurate picture of what happened.
Alex Bustamante says they are unable to adequately determine if the LAPD is investigating these incidents as well as they should be, simply because the LAPD doesn’t require a whole lot of documentation and details after such incidents occur.
“It does not mean they are bad,” said Bustamante of the use of force investigations. “I just don’t have the ability to look.”
These use of force events are referred to as non-categoricals, or “non-cats”. They include things like: body holds, baton strikes, punches, Taser use, and bean-bag projectiles. In other words, though they might not result in injury, the potential is certainly there.
The inspector general made this note when addressing commissioners about the quality of LAPD investigations on itself.
An investigation into deadly use of force, for instance, will take months and will be conducted by a special unit. Less serious uses of force, however, get far less attention and are investigated by field supervisors (people who have an interest in making sure the investigations err on the side of justifiable).
“In all but a fraction” of these cases, interviews with officers or witness are not recorded. In addition, only one report is required from a present officer, no matter how many officers were there when the incident took place. In other words, one point of view is expected to provide enough perspective.
These less serious uses of force account for 95% of the 1,750 force incidents each year by LAPD officers. So in the vast majority of cases where police use force, it’s safe to say the department is really not paying attention.
Left to their own devices, small weeds become big weeds and eventually take over a yard. The same can be said for bad cops. When departments like the LAPD fail to fully investigate every single incident where force is used, they leave the door open to abuses.
Whether arrested for disorderly conduct or assault, you may have been roughed up by the police. And though you are now facing criminal charges, you still have rights. If you are charged with an offense, contact our attorneys today to discuss your legal options and how we might be able to help.