The Oakland Police Department (OPD) defines Use of Force (UOF) as any physical or mechanical intervention used by a member or employee to defend, control, overpower, restrain or overcome the resistance of an individual. OPD takes UOF seriously and has employed several strategies to reduce its occurrence (see definitions, strategies, and links to UOF levels below).
OPD uses a broader definition for UOF than many other police agencies. For example, while other police agencies may not define the act of pointing a firearm as a use of force, OPD does. As a result of OPD's broad UOF definition, the City of Oakland's numbers may appear higher than with other police agencies (useful comparisons will account for variations in the definitions used and data collected by different agencies).
Strategies to Reduce Use of Force
The Oakland Police Department (OPD) has made a strategic effort to reduce the use of force. We have had positive results in reducing force by:
* Increased Training - OPD has increased classroom training to remind officers of the legal requirements for using force – even lower level uses of force, such as the pointing of a firearm at a person. OPD has added additional dynamic training that includes simulated arrests, video simulators and role playing -with non-lethal firearms as well as other force options. Additionally, more officers are trained in Crisis Intervention techniques with a focus on interacting with persons experiencing mental distress.
* Enhanced Policy - OPD now requires officers to de-escalate potentially violent situations whenever possible.
* Using Body-Worn Cameras - OPD was the first large police agency in the United States to equip all uniformed officers with body-worn cameras.
* Increased Oversight - All uses of force by Oakland police officers are reported, tracked, and reviewed. The lowest level uses of force are reviewed by the supervisor and commander of the officer using the force through a review of video. Higher level uses of force are investigated by OPD Homicide Section, the Internal Affairs Division, and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.