All officers going through special training
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin Police officers arenot using tasers, pepper spray or hand-to-hand control techniques asmuch as they used to. A new response to resistance report is out fromAPD headquarters and shows the use of force dropped by 22 percent from2006 to 2007. In fact, APD said most incidents of force are down duringthat year. Officers used pepper spray 37 percent less, and the use oftasers dropped 14 percent.
"Obviously we're very pleased withthat," said Austin Police Department Assistant Chief Al Eells, "Thevast majority of the time the officers are making the right decision."
Thereport comes as the United States Department of Justice continues itsinvestigation into APD's use of force. While that investigation isongoing, the department is also tracking its own. The statistics showmost of the use of force happened downtown from 12 a.m. to 2:59 a.m. inthe morning when most people are getting out of bars.
Eells saidtraining is also a part of the reason the statistics might havedropped. All APD officers are going through Krav Maga combat training.Krav Maga, the official combat technique of the Israeli Defense Forces,is a combat technique that many law enforcement agencies across thecountry use.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said last week, the training is going to help officers from getting into situations like the Daniel Rocha incident from 2005. Officer Julie Schroeder shot and killed Rocha after ascuffle. The Austin City Council just paid the Rocha family $1 million.Eells said training is a key component of APD's use of force.
"We hope that the incidents that are the type that would be very public would be minimized," said Eells.
"Knowinghow to do these things gives you a certain type of confidence and itcauses less conflict," said Heath Jones, a Krav Maga instructor inAustin. "I know that any officer that trains with us is better for it,"said Jones.