LACONIA — City Police reported that the department's use of force statistics are down from last year and are on the low side of average for police departments in New Hampshire.
Capt. William Clary (Ret.) said overall the members of the department used force in 2 percent of its arrests, which is slightly down from last year.
He said of the 43 individuals who were arrested by force, two of them complained. He said one officer was found to not have obeyed department policy and a second officer required further training.
In its record keeping, the police department describes "use of force" as use of a firearm (0), use of a firearm on a animal (8), display of a firearm (18), baton strikes (0), use of a baton for control of a person (0), use of pepper spray (4), use of a closed fist during an arrest (3), use of an open hand during an arrest (46), deployment of a Taser (7), the display of a Taser (7), a knee strike (1), K-9 bites (2), and other types of force (9).
Of the 106 total uses of force, in nine of the 46 arrests where force was used, officers used more than one kind of force. Seven arrests had more than one officer using force.
Clary said Laconia's officers have received extra training and have been more effective using "verbal judo" than physical force to de-escalate many situations.
He said Laconia Police have always been in the 2 to 3 percent range for use of force where as other departments consider a 5 percent use of force during arrests as an acceptable standard. He said some departments in the state have been as high as 10 percent.
"For us, that is just too high," he said.
Clary also said that while all officers are trained on using a police baton, many are opting not to carry a night stick on their duty belts especially some of the smaller officers who don't have room on their belts. He said 2015 was the fourth year in a row that there have been no strikes with a baton.
He said the use of pepper spray has also declined and can be attributed to a slight increase in the use and displays of Tasers.