LOS ANGELES >> Violent police encounters in California last year led to the deaths of 157 people and six officers, the state attorney general’s office said today in a report that provides the first statewide tally on police use-of-force incidents.
All of the state’s 800 police departments supplied detailed data from 2016, including demographic information on the civilians and officers, the type of call that led to the violence and the officers’ justification for using force.
The departments reported 782 incidents resulting in serious injury or death, or where a firearm was discharged. Those cases involved 832 civilians and about 19 percent, or 157, of those people were killed.
Forty-two percent of civilians who were involved in the incidents were Hispanic, 30 percent white and 20 percent black. More than 50 percent of the officers involved were white, according to the report.
The times officers used force represent a tiny fraction of the millions of police encounters in the state of nearly 40 million people.
“In California, we strive to improve public trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they are sworn to protect by opening lines of communication,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “A necessary part of the discussion is knowing the facts and having the data to inform the creation of effective plans to advance sound criminal justice policies.”
Departments are now required to report any use of force that causes “serious injuries” under a proposal passed by lawmakers and implemented by former Attorney General Kamala Harris. Though some departments already tracked such data on their own, many did not.
Few other states collect such comprehensive data. Texas requires the attorney general to track statistics on officer-caused and officer-sustained injuries and death, Colorado requires every police shooting be reported and Connecticut tracks every incident of serious force, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.