City of Cambridge, MA

06/07/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/07/2023 09:53

Cambridge Police Department Publishes 2022 Use of Force Report

To enhance transparency and feature more comprehensive department data, the Cambridge Police Department has published a summary of its Use of Force incidents for 2022. The comprehensive 10-page report is posted and available on the Cambridge Police Department's website via its Transparency Portal.

The report includes an overview of:

  • Total number of use of force incidents by year
  • Percentage of incidents resulting in use of force
  • Types of incidents resulting in the use of force
  • Number of officers involved in use of force incidents
  • Demographics of those involved in use of force incidents (gender, race, and ethnicity)

This report provides an in-depth, critical look at the preceding 5 years of data relating to the use of force by Cambridge police officers allowing the community to review year-over-year figures and trends. In some cases, more historical data is also available.

In 2022, the Cambridge Police responded to 106,027 calls for service. Out of those calls, there were 66 incidents (0.062%) in which officers used some level of force. Overall, the percentage of calls for service resulting in use of force incidents in 2022 was higher than the 10-year low of 0.049% in 2021, but lower than the percentages in 2020, 2018, 2017, and 2016. The highest number of use-of-force incidents over the past 10 years was 81 in 2015, while the lowest was 47 in 2021.

More than half of the use of force incidents in 2022 were conducted to effect an arrest. The use of hands (e.g. officer used an arm/wrist lock, block, struck or wrestled a suspect) and takedown/prone position made up 47 of the 66 use of force incidents (71%) in 2022. Officers did not utilize OC spray in 2022 and an officer's baton was used once in all of 2022 (in order to free a defendant's arm after they pinned it under their body while resisting arrest). Between 2018-2022, there were zero incidents in which an officer discharged a firearm. This was the first time age, race, and gender has been incorporated into the department's use of force reporting. 65 percent of use of force incidents in 2022 involved a person of color.

Per department policy, Cambridge Police Officers are required to file a written report anytime any use of force is used or a firearm is pointed at another individual following a police response. Use of force includes the use of hands, placing an individual in a takedown or prone handcuffing position, knee strikes, displaying or utilizing a weapon(s), including a less-lethal weapon or firearm. All use-of-force incidents are then formally reviewed by an officer's supervisor and results from each review are ultimately shared with the Police Commissioner.Cambridge Police officers are authorized to use only the amount of force, which is reasonable, necessary, and proportionate to accomplish lawful objectives and are trained to attempt and de-escalate an incident without use of force, whenever feasible.

Cambridge Police Commissioner Christine Elow stated, "I firmly believe that accurate, transparent reporting of use of force incidents is one of many ways police departments can build trust and confidence with the communities they serve. This report is incredibly thorough and demonstrates that our officers, who can face incredibly complex situations, are doing everything possible to verbally de-escalate situations and using force when it is absolutely necessary. Having de-escalation in policy is important, but within our department it has been reinforced through training. We have made significant investments in this area for years - through the likes of ICAT (Integrating Communications, Assessment and Tactics) - and slowing situations down, whenever possible, to allow greater understanding and additional options to safely resolve situations for everyone involved."