COLORADO SPRINGS — An independent study of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s (CSPD) use of force has released its findings and recommendations.

Transparency Matters, LLC and CSPD hosted a presentation on Tuesday at Stargazer’s Theatre in Colorado Springs to announce the findings. The presentation was also livestreamed and is available to view in its entirety on CSPD’s Facebook page.

The process of the study began in July 2020, when CSPD says, it sought proposals from qualified firms and consultants to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the police department’s use of force. While the department already performs an analysis every year on use of force as part of their CALEA accreditation, the department says it “took it a step further to self-initiate this review from an outside party.” 

The study found younger Hispanic and black men were more likely to have force used against them by CSPD officers. However, black people were significantly less likely to be injured during use of force incidents compared to white people. 3/4 of all use of force arrests involved injury to the suspect.

Table found on page 33 of full Use of Force report

The study also found that resisting arrest, impairment due to alcohol or drugs, and emotional disturbance increased the chances of injury occurring during an arrest. On the officer’s side, 60% of officers used weaponless force, 29% used tasers, and 14% used chemical sprays. Officers who used weaponless force were found to have a greater chance of injury to themselves during a use of force arrest.

One statistic that had analysts concerned was that female officers were 1.7 times more likely to be injured during a force incident than their male counterparts. Some explanations analysts offered for this disparity were that more female officers used a taser, which leads to more injuries, and that female officers are more likely to report their injuries than male officers.

Table found on page 90 of full Use of Force report

The study also looked at several random cases to see if they could be better handled, and most cases were found to be handled appropriately. There was of course room for improvement, specifically in record keeping. Analysts said several officer reports did not match up with the body cam footage of the incident.

Mayor John Suthers spoke to FOX21 on that topic after the presentation: “It is part of their department procedures, they get disciplined for not reporting this use of force, and accurately reporting use of force. They have a real incentive to report it, and there are other officers witnessing these use of forces that report those use of forces. I think we get a pretty good picture of the totality of the use of force.”

After the presentation of the study, a set of recommendations were put forth for the department moving forward, which aim to reduce the frequency, severity, and racial/ethnic disparities in use of force. Some of those recommendations include:

  • enhancing a culture that emphasizes and rewards de-escalation
  • enhancing transparency through timely release of information to the community so as to improve public confidence and trust
  • Continue to enhance supervision, accountability & oversight related to use of force

CSPD is currently reviewing the full report, but said that some recommendations, such as better data collection on pointing firearms, could be implemented quickly. Other recommendations, such as conducting an audit of CSPD’s use of force training, will take more time.

You can read the full report and learn more about Transparency Matters, as well as stay up to date with the implementation of any changes to department policy resulting from the study on the Transparency Matters Report website.