Force used during only 2.5% of arrests made by Laconia police

LACONIA — City police reported a 2013 decrease in the percentage of times they needed to use force during an arrest in the annual update to the Police Commission yesterday.

Capt. Bill Clary said the of the 1,377 arrests made by police last year, police used force in 36 incidents, or 2.5 percent of the time. In some of the those incidents, multiple police officers filed a use of force report, meaning multiple officer were there and used force.

In Laconia, a use of force is defined as anytime an officer displays his or her weapons, deploys any of his or her weapons, or puts their hands on an individual in order to make an arrest. With the exceptions of shooting an animal, he said there were no firearms discharges.

Clary credits the department becoming certified by the Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation for providing educational tools to reduce the number of use of force incidents in the department.

He said the historical average is about 3 percent.

During the review process, one report resulted in an Initial Personnel Complaint which was investigated internally and conduct was determined not to be improper.

In addition, Clary said an internal "early warning system" triggered one investigation when an officer had five displays of his or her weapons. He said two officers last year hit the five displays level. One had 11 reported uses and one had six reported uses. No other officers had more than four.

Clary also reported that over last year, five officers were suspended, one received a letter of reprimand and one report of unsatisfactory performance was investigated and found to be unfounded.

The five suspensions were one each for a violation of request for assistance, one for unsatisfactory performance, one for use of department equipment, one for courtesy, and one for violations of the rules.