When the honesty and integrity of the actions of law enforcement officers are being questioned on a daily basis, the Parkersburg Division of Police is staying ahead of the national heat. As promised, to achieve complete transparency, the results of the Parkersburg Division of Police/ Community Outreach Survey are now being shared with Parkersburg citizens and with you.
In Early August, The Parkersburg Division of Police partnered with Response to Resistance to ensure they were protecting the citizens in their community with reasonable use of force techniques. 555 civilians from the Parkersburg community were called to take the same survey officers of the Department took in June.
Community respondents ranged from 18 years of age to 60+ and were nearly evenly split between male and female. All levels of education and income were represented, as well as race. The results for both law enforcement and civilians have been analyzed and compared to ensure the use of force techniques adopted by the Department match the way in which the community would like to be protected.
1. The Parkersburg community and Division of Police results are remarkably similar.
In June, 55 law enforcement officers from the Parkersburg Division of Police were surveyed and the results were deeply analyzed. To ensure consistency, we evaluated the results by rank; Upper Management, Mid-Management/1st Line Supervision and Patrol, as well as by each, individual use of force technique. This level of analysis for the use of force techniques was also completed for the 555 community respondents. Armed with this information, the Department was able to target their training efforts and provide additional attention to specific areas as needed. The full report is available for review at Parkersburg Division of Police/ Community Outreach Results.
The best way to highlight the similarity in responses between the Parkersburg community and the Division of Police is to show the results, side-by-side.
The comprehensive report shows that of the civilians surveyed who answered, “No,” a significant percentage disagreed with every use of force technique offered which can point to either a lack of understanding regarding the question or a grievance with law enforcement as a whole.
The comprehensive report shows that of the civilians surveyed, the highest percentage of disagreement was for the use of striking muscle masses to cause cramping and secondly, with the use of take down techniques.
The comprehensive report shows that, regarding the specific use of force techniques, the highest percentage of disagreement was with an officer using striking, punching of kicking techniques, second was with the use of electrical devises and third was with the use of chemical agents.
The comprehensive report shows that, regarding the specific use of force techniques, the highest percentage of disagreement was with an officer using vascular neck restraints or sleeper holds.
Again, it is important to highlight that of the civilians surveyed, a significant percentage of those who answered, “No,” also disagreed with every use of force technique offered. This implies either a lack of understanding regarding the question, a grievance with law enforcement as a whole or a fundamental aversion to police use of force.
2. The Parkersburg community results are closely aligned with the national survey results.
While the tools used to collect survey response have evolved over time, the results appear to stay consistent. The graph below shows what over 60,000 respondents, nationwide have said are reasonable responses to resistance and aggression. The graph below is a detailed analysis of the level of agreement for each, individual use of force technique. This level of detail is available by clicking Parkersburg Division of Police/ Community Outreach Results.
3. The Parkersburg Division of Police has received formal use of force training according to the Action-Response Continuum, which is populated by survey results.
The Action-Response Continuum is a pictorial representation of what officers and civilians say are reasonable responses to resistance, aggression and assault and is used for law enforcement training throughout the nation. The Continuum is not static or biased by race, age, gender, sex, etc. The intention is for it to be altered to match the dynamic nature of the department using it and to accurately depict the community and law enforcement perspectives on reasonable responses to resistance and aggression. This means, that the survey results from the Parkersburg Division of Police and the community have populated the Continuum now adopted by the Department.
Let me quickly provide a more in-depth explanation of the Action-Response Continuum. The colors of the Continuum show the escalation of a scenario in which an individuals’ actions are met by an officers’ response. As the individuals’ actions become more aggressive or resistive, the officers’ use of force response becomes stronger in an effort to achieve or maintain control. The blue and green areas of the Continuum represent subject control. For example, if a suspect is not responding to an officer’s command, law enforcement and the community agree that it’s reasonable for the officer to response by using an escort position, balance displacement or call for assistance from other officers. The yellow, orange and red areas of the Continuum represent officer safety issues in which the individuals’ action pose danger to the officer or others. For example, if a suspect is striking or kicking an officer, law enforcement and the community agree that it’s reasonable for the officer to response by using baton techniques or sleeper holds.
As the Continuum author, I can’t estimate the number of departments using the Continuum, but I have trained officers from New York to California and Michigan to Florida. My motivation, and the goal of Response to Resistance, is to generate dialogue around the need to establish basic, nationally consistent rules for police use of force, regardless of outside issues used to dissuade from the real issue.
The Parkersburg Division of Police and the community have embarked on a forward thinking plan to spur unity and consistency. The full results from their survey can be accessed here; Parkersburg Division of Police/ Community Outreach Results. This type of transparency and diplomacy are an absolutely necessary step toward repairing the fractured relationship between law enforcement and civilians. Police, Corrections and Private Security agencies of all sizes and locations can join the movement to increase trust and improve community relations by contacting Response to Resistance.