Watch CBS News

When do police use force on the public? New analysis of Dallas police date found some surprising answers

When do police use force, how do police use force and who do they use it against?
When do police use force, how do police use force and who do they use it against? 02:00

DALLAS ( – When do police use force, how, and against whom?

Those are some of the questions Dallas' police chief had.

Now, the Dallas Police Department is launching a new tool that aims to answer them.

Police shootings in Dallas have dropped significantly over the last ten years from 24 in 2012 to eight last year. More common are less lethal forms of police force used every day.

DPD Chief Eddie Garcia wanted to better understand it all.

"The most polarizing issue in American law enforcement is the use of force, particularly the manner in which officers use force against people we take into custody," said Garcia.

The department hired a Seattle based consultant group, Police Strategies, to analyze when, where, how, and why Dallas officers use force and to make the information accessible to the public in a new online site launched Thursday.

The data shows, for example, officers are more likely to use force on weekends, between the hours of 1 and 3 a.m., and in downtown and its surrounding areas.

In three quarters of cases, it shows police haven't used a weapon, but physical force.

And, in almost two thirds of cases, officers were responding to a call, mostly commonly about a disturbance or suspicious person.

"Obviously, one of the biggest things we want to see is the racial disparity. When my officers decide to use force, does race play a factor in that?" said Garcia.

While Blacks and Hispanics are arrested at disproportionately high rates, the new data released shows, when they are arrested, they are less likely than someone white to have police force used against them.

Dallas Police Community Oversight Board Chair Jesuorobo Enobakhare recognizes that goes against the perception many people have.

"Does that mean if someone looks at that dashboard, it's gonna change their perception of policing? No. But, I think that's an additional tool that can establish trust," said Enobakhare.

For Garcia, transparency is a starting point.

He'll be drilling down into the data to see what the department is doing well and where it can improve.

The data, for example, found the percentage of use of force cases involving people with mental health issues dropped from 19% to 9% over seven years. Garcia credits that, in part, to RIGHT care program that dispatches social workers to calls when someone is suffering a mental health crisis.

The departments' historical use of force data can also be compared to other departments across the country. For example, an analysis by Police Strategies found Dallas police are less likely when using force to have dogs bite a suspect or to use a stun gun, like a taser. They are more likely than officers from other departments to use a chemical spray or physical force.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.