AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin Police officers are not using tasers, pepper spray orhand-to-hand control techniques as much as they used to. A newresponse to resistance report is out from APD headquarters andshows the use of force dropped by 22 percent from 2006 to 2007. Infact, APD said most incidents of force are down during that year.Officers used pepper spray 37 percent less, and the use of tasersdropped 14 percent.
"Obviously we're very pleased with that," said Austin PoliceDepartment Assistant Chief Al Eells, "The vast majority of the timethe officers are making the right decision."
The report comes as the United States Department of Justicecontinues its investigation into APD's use of force. While thatinvestigation is ongoing, the department is also tracking its own.The statistics show most of the use of force happened downtown from12 a.m. to 2:59 a.m. in the morning when most people are gettingout of bars.
Eells said training is also a part of the reason the statisticsmight have dropped. All APD officers are going through Krav Magacombat training. Krav Maga, the official combat technique of theIsraeli Defense Forces, is a combat technique that many lawenforcement agencies across the country use.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said last week, the training isgoing to help officers from getting into situations like the DanielRocha incident from 2005. Officer Julie Schroeder shot andkilled Rocha after a scuffle. The Austin City Council just paid theRocha family $1 million. Eells said training is a key component ofAPD's use of force.
"We hope that the incidents that are the type that would be verypublic would be minimized," said Eells.
"Knowing how to do these things gives you a certain type ofconfidence and it causes less conflict," said Heath Jones, a KravMaga instructor in Austin. "I know that any officer that trainswith us is better for it," said Jones.
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