Police use of force: Ending excessive use of force by law enforcement is a crucial step toward healthy, safe communities.

Key Trends in the Bay Area

  • Large racial disparities are evident in police use-of-force incidents in the Nine-County Bay Area: over the two-year period of 2016 and 2017, there were 10 incidents per 100,000 Black residents compared with only three incidents per 100,000 residents overall.
  • The overwhelming majority of law enforcement use-of-force incidents involve men.
  • Of nearly 220 use-of-force incidents between law enforcement and civilians in 2016 and 2017, two-thirds resulted in serious bodily injury to civilians and one-fifth resulted in civilian death.
  • Solano County has the highest incidence of police use-of-force per 100,000 people (five incidents per 100,000 people), while Marin County has the lowest (about 0 incident per 100,000 people).

Drivers of Inequity

Police brutality is a longstanding issue in the US and in the Bay Area, where the Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter movements took root to counter police violence toward the Black community. Historically, vagrancy laws gave the police license to arrest Black citizens with little cause. Today law enforcement is still not held accountable for the shooting deaths of civilians, who are often unarmed and predominantly Black and brown men. Permissive use-of-force policies and the lack of standards, transparency, and robust data perpetuates the challenge. In addition, police unions have generally organized against any attempts at reform aiming for greater accountability.

Strategies

Invest in people: Strategies to protect and value the lives of all residents

Strategy in Action

After adopting a new policy on deadly force, Stockton's police shootings decreased 73 percent. To reduce crime and increase trust, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones began listening to residents. A conversation with one resident prompted a listening tour that reached over 100 residents and became a routine practice. The Chief ultimately used community feedback and research to implement systemic departmental changes: acknowledgment of past harms by the police; routine follow-up with victim’s families; and officer training. Between 2017 and 2018, police shooting decreased by 73 percent compared to the previous year. By 2018, homicides and nonfatal shootings declined and anonymous tips increased. The homicide clearance rate increased from about 40 percent in 2017 to 66 percent in 2018. Learn more.

Related Indicators