Police officers in New York used force in at least 10,836 incidents in 2021, including 79 where they reported discharging a firearm, 1,003 where a chemical agent was used and 21 occurrences of deploying a chokehold or similar restraint, according to data collected by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The newly released information stems from the state budget adopted in the spring of 2019, which requires law enforcement agencies to document instances when officers used force in the line of duty.
The latest data dump covers November 2020 through the end of 2021, but its usefulness is limited by the New York Police Department’s failure to report whether a chokehold was used or if their conduct resulted in serious bodily harm or the death of a civilian. For instance, the state data summary indicates eight people died as the result of police conduct in 2021, while a Washington Post database found that 20 people were shot and killed by law enforcement in New York last year.
It’s also challenging to compare the new information with past records due to changes in the reporting methodology over the last three years. In addition to a statewide overview of the data, DCJS also has information available on individual incidents.
Nearly half of the incidents in 2021 where law enforcement officers reported using force involved black New Yorkers, while black people make up about 17 percent of the state population. According to data collected by the Washington Post, black Americans are killed during encounters with police officers at more than twice the rate of white Americans.
During the budget debate on the issue more than three years ago, proponents of the requirements argued they could inform future police training, identify problematic trends and increase transparency, while critics contended it would have a “chilling effect” on appropriate use of force.
The state was tasked with compiling the data into an annual public report, which omits officers’ names but includes a description of the circumstances that led to the use of force and the parties involved. The first report was published in the summer of 2021.