NYPD To Document Nearly All Instances of Force

Commissioner Bratton says new database could become "national template" for police transparency.


Is a new era of transparency in policing upon us?

Flickr/Michael Fleshman

Perhaps, if Commissioner William J. Bratton's suggestion that the NYPD's newly announced system, which mandates the documentation of almost any use of force by its officers, becomes a "national template" for other police departments.

The New York Times reports:

Every police officer will have to detail virtually every instance when force is used not only in an arrest but also in other encounters with the public, including the sort of brief, violent detention and release that occurs routinely on the street and, in the case of the retired tennis star James Blake, is captured on video.

Officers, who have long been required to intervene when they see other officers using excessive force, will now face formal discipline, up to and including dismissal, not only if they fail to step in or report excessive force, but also if they also fail to seek medical assistance for someone who requests it.

The new policy comes in the wake of a tumultuous year where the killings of unarmed black men (and boys) in New York City and around the country have led to a brighter spotlight shone on police officers' use of force. And while the NYPD has "meticulously studied" every single bullet fired by its officers for decades, they will now also study "far more routine episodes of force — baton blows, physical altercations, mace spraying, takedowns — that erupt in an instant on the street."

Bratton admitted that by only focusing on gunshots, the department was left with "a hole in our data":

Many of the everyday rough encounters between officers and civilians, which rankle observers but that Mr. Bratton has called "awful but lawful," are not presently documented. Officers can note force on forms filed for an arrest, but not after hundreds of thousands of other interactions, including car stops, criminal summonses and dealings with emotionally disturbed people…

By more closely tracking every physical encounter, including by race, and requiring officers to justify their actions, police officials expect that the new data will capture an increased number of forcible episodes. But they also expect that those encounters will be better understood.

While the new system, expected to be implemented in early 2016, will allow for a greater analysis of how, why, and where officers use force, there will still be holes in the data. For example, if an officer pushes a citizen against a wall, they are under no obligation to document that as force. In a situation where a detained individual who is not under arrest becomes less than cooperative, the appropriate level of force hovers in a gray area. 

This new push for transparency and conditioning officers to de-escalate potentially volatile situations comes just days after the NYPD introduced "Stop and Frisk tickets," essentially a receipt explaining why an officer stopped a person but did not arrest them.

Not everyone is on board with the increased scrutiny on police. The New York Daily News reports:

Patrick Lynch, head of the largest NYPD union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA), called the new paperwork "another nail in the coffin of proactive policing." 

Reason reached out to the PBA for comment on the new policy regarding use of force reporting. We will update if/when they respond. 

In late 2014, Reason TV reported from a pro-NYPD rally held after massive protests critical of the NYPD erupted all over New York City following the non-indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.

Watch below:

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78 responses to “NYPD To Document Nearly All Instances of Force

  1. proactive policing
    What does this even mean?

    1. Things like Driving While Black, frisking people that give you funny looks, confiscating cell phones from people witnessing police abuse, and beating up people who resemble people that commit credit card fraud.

      Nothing new.

    2. By zealously enforcing petty legislation they prevent major crimes from occurring. So much so that they can put less effort into investigating major crimes and instead focus on “Broken Window Policing.” An ounce of petty enforcement is worth a pound of investigation. Right?

      (Forget the fact that those petty crimes bring in tons of revenue, and investigating crimes requires like actual work and stuff.)

    3. It means they can escalate a situation until they deem it appropriate to use force.

      But not force-force, which would require them to document it.

    4. Less police acne.

      1. *blinks several times*

        *begins applause*

    5. It makes complete sense when you realize that many police officers consider themselves soldiers occupying hostile territory, where actively seeking out the “bad guys” is generally encouraged.

  2. “another nail in the coffin of proactive policing.”

    Yes, Officer, that’s the point!

  3. “Officers, who have long been required to intervene when they see other officers using excessive force, will now face formal discipline, up to and including dismissal, not only if they fail to step in or report excessive force, but also if they also fail to seek medical assistance for someone who requests it.”


    Seriously, stop it, I can’t breathe.

    1. dang it

    2. Ima borrow a squint from Swissie for that one. Well japed, kV.

  4. Officers, who have long been required to intervene when they see other officers using excessive force, will now face formal discipline, up to and including dismissal, not only if they fail to step in or report excessive force, but also if they also fail to seek medical assistance for someone who requests it.

    Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Yeah, like that will happen.

  5. The “Feared for my safety”, “Resisting” and “Pit Bull” fields are going to get a workout.

    1. You, you think the ‘documentation’ will just be made-up shit they choose to put in their reports?! How can that be? They would never do that, would they?

      1. The data entry screen will autofill “furtive movement” for you.

    2. Maybe they can piggy-back on the ICD-10 codes so that every medical malady has an associated crime. Then, maybe, we will finally be able to bring the debilitating scourge of people lighting their water skis on fire to an end.

  6. My memory is fading, but wasn’t the officer who arrested Blake supposed to fill out a report? And failed to do so? And his failure to do so only came to light because there was a video and Blake is famous?
    What makes you think that the officers are actually going to fill out these reports, and what makes you think that their commanders will actually force them to? The commanders don’t even punish their officer when they kill people on video for no reason. You think they’re going to punish officers for not filling out a stupid little report?

    1. And even if they do fill out reports, will they actually have any semblance of reality?

      1. Yes, I should have added that.

    2. On the plus side, they’ll have all of this new data to point to that says they rarely use force.

    3. It would not surprise me in the least to learn that the NYPD brass considers improper paperwork to be worse than murder.

      1. Hey, improper paperwork can lead to bureaucratic headaches and being forced to sit through (and even answer questions at) oversight hearings. Investigating murders can be exciting.

    4. My memory is fading, but wasn’t the officer who arrested Blake supposed to fill out a report?

      And nevermind that Richard Zuley was a detective in the Chicago PD and that CPD itself was suspected of running a domestic black site.

      1. Sorry, guess that’s a little out of left field if you don’t live in/around Chicago. Just, if they said Chicago was adopting the template and documenting every use of force, my response would be the same, “Yeah right!” that pretty much everyone else has given.

  7. Nearly…virtually

    So all the ones that don’t look bad? This seems like a hole large enough to drive a squad car through.

  8. Not to derail, but what the fuck happened in this refugee thread?

    As far as I can tell, Riven went completely insane for reasons unknown given that I’ve never seen her act like that before and there was inexplicably a 70 post long shit fit about the chemicals released into a woman’s brain post pregnancy.

    And were Riven and Nicole inexplicably denying that young men are more violent than other demographic groups?

    Sorry. I may have just brought the infection into this thread and should apologize.

    1. I was not denying that at all.

      1. I’d also like to point out that I did not deny that. I just thought her argument boiled down to mysterious happy-feel-good brain chemicalz when it simply isn’t that simple.

    2. Looks like I bailed just in time.

      1. You’re a strong-looking guy! You’re walking?and there’s so many men, there aren’t that many women. And I’m saying to myself, “Why aren’t you fighting to defend your position? Why are you migrating to other threads?” I’m serious!

        1. For economic reasons, clearly.

        2. *hands trophy to Hugh, encourages audience to applaud*

    3. I wouldn’t have done that if I were you, Irish.

    4. As far as I can tell, the argument seemed to start over the idea that women are controlled by their hormones rather than rational choice as far as explaining why women are less aggressive and violent than men. Some people I think took exception to the idea that humans (or at least the ones with a uterus) are just a meat machine run by chemicals and electrical impulses and only imagine that they have free will, although that’s a rather well-known line of thought. The idea seemed to be that for whatever reason women are less aggressive and violent than men it’s because they choose to be, not because that’s just the way females are and they can’t help it. Then some retards or trolls came along and tried arguing that women are not in fact less aggressive and violent than males because there was this one woman this one time and patriarchy cisnormative culturoppressive gender stereotypes or some such shit.

      1. I said in the beginning of that shitfest post that people are both varied and that hormones can be overcome. “Hormones have a big effect on behavior, and they cause noticeable differences in large demographics” is not inconsistent with “Humans have free will and are both capable and responsible for making both bad and good decisions”. Same way alcohol does effect your decision making capabilities but the sex you engage in is still consensual.

        1. Sorry if this post was overly aggressive. Left over defensiveness from yesterday probably.

    5. Also, Matt Welch is a liar. A fucking lying liar who tells lies. Did I mention all the lies he tells? What do you mean, proof? You want some kind of evidence that anything he said is wrong? What are you, some kind of communist?

      1. I wanted to applaud you for your work there. You made that shitshow a lot more enjoyable and reasonable.

        Also, how dare Matt call Trump stupid! Matt’s stupid!

    1. I hate that that exists.

      1. So is that a “would not bang”?

        1. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

          1. He looks rather twinky.

            1. I thought twinks were more of the A&F catalog looking guys? Hopefully Jesse will come along and school us with the right critter-based terminology for wiry gay hipsters.

              1. Twinks are way skinnier than this guy and A&F models.

    2. Looks more like a plain nerd to me.


      That is deplorable.


  9. the NYPD’s newly announced system, which mandates the documentation of almost any use of force by its officers, becomes a “national template” for other police departments

    I’m sure it will become a national template – especially the trasparency part where every single document is available to the public. Well, except for those few that relate to internal personnel matters, i.e. any where there’s any hint or allegation whatsoever that there was any appearance of impropriety on the part of Officer Friendly. But every single document related to entirely proper use of force will be freely available, you can bet on that.

    1. Ding, ding. We have a winner. The union rules and the Cop Bill of Rights won’t allow anything relating to a personnel action to be released. So, if its not squeaky clean, into the memory hole it goes.

      And a brand new propaganda campaign is born! See, proles, 100% of the use of force in our huge new database is legit! Quit complaining and stop resisting.

      1. Has any state moved to repeal its LEOBOR laws? It looks like there was some movement on reform in Maryland (links to the bills: SB0566, HB0968), but I don’t see any action since early this year.

  10. And when they say “Nearly All” they actually mean “Almost none.”

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  11. This is supposedly a new idea?

    Every police department that I know of requires a report for any and all uses of force.

    NYPD is striving to document “nearly all”? Good god.

  12. So if they really could find a way to require officers to document all instances where force was used and make it stick that would do more to end police violence than just about any other law, regulation, or “training”.

    I mean cops hate work and if beating up on some guy means a couple hours extra paperwork then his lazyness gene will take over for his violence gene

  13. “”Nearly All””

    they have ‘looked the other way when my partner planted a gun on the dead body’ provisions

    1. I’ll see your ‘goddamit’ and raise you a ‘not again…’

  14. Why do I get the feeling the review panel will consist of an East German general with a stamp reading “find him and kill him”?

  15. “Is a new era of transparency in policing upon us?”

    No matter how many times they try and reinvent it, it’s still the same old violent coercive monopoly funded by extortion.

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