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

Insights & Analyses

  • Large racial disparities are evident in police use-of-force incidents in the nine-county Bay Area: the rate of use-of-force incidents involving Black and Latinx residents was higher than all other groups from 2016 to 2022.
  • From 2016 to 2022, the rate of use of force incidents involving Black civilians was 34 per 100,000, compared with only eight per 100,000 overall.
  • The overwhelming majority of law enforcement use-of-force incidents involve men.
  • Of the nearly 650 use-of-force incidents between law enforcement and civilians in the nine-county Bay Area from 2016 to 2022, nearly 70 percent resulted in serious bodily injury to civilians and about 20 percent resulted in civilian death.
  • Napa County has the highest incidence of police use-of-force per 100,000 people (20 incidents per 100,000 people), while Marin County has the lowest (about one 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 people 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 perpetuate the challenge. In addition, police unions have generally organized against any attempts at reform aiming for greater accountability.


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

Strategy in Action

The City of Oakland is exploring an alternative model of crisis intervention that seeks to improve community safety while reducing police-civilian interactions. The Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland (MACRO) is a community response program for nonviolent crisis intervention through which civilian workers respond to behavioral health crises, issues related to homelessness, and other needs throughout the city. Modeled after the successful CAHOOTS mobile crisis intervention program in Eugene, Oregon, MACRO aims to reduce police use of force incidents by diverting non-emergency calls from the Oakland Police Department to MACRO civilian workers, who help de-escalate nonviolent crises and connect people with appropriate resources and community-based services. The MACRO program, which has been housed within the Oakland Fire Department since the 18-month pilot launched in April 2022, has made at least 13,236 contacts with community members. As of June 2023, 1,225 (9 percent) of these interactions have come from 911 dispatchers. By March 2023, civilian workers have distributed 2,375 blankets to unhoused community members, 3,579 bottles of water, and conducted 1,514 referrals to local service providers. Further refinement and evaluation of the program can build on this promising approach. Learn more.

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