Rate of officer-involved deaths far exceeds that of most California cities
ANAHEIM — The ACLU of California today released a report on the use of excessive force by the Anaheim Police Department, which has a rate of officer-involved deaths far exceeding law enforcement agencies in the vast majority of cities of similar and larger size.
According to FBI data, Anaheim ranked ninth among the 60 largest U.S. cities in 2015 in the rate of officer-involved deaths during arrests. Last year alone, the rate of police-involved deaths per million residents in Anaheim outdistanced that of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston and most other large cities.
"Anaheim, which likes to call itself the 'City of Kindness,' must grapple with the disparate impact of deadly use-of-force by its police department on low-income, communities of color," said ACLU SoCal Community Engagement and Policy Advocate Jennifer Rojas, who co-authored the report. "It's critical that true, independent civilian oversight, not beholden to the city, be established to examine the actions of the police department."
The ACLU report is based on the study and analysis of police and coroner reports, newspaper articles and data collected by the California Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice.
It chiefly examines the time span from 2003 to 2016, during which 33 people died following use-of-force by on-duty Anaheim Police Department officers. Of those, 29 were shot, three were hit with Tasers and one had been placed in a chokehold.
Nearly 40 percent of the fatal victims of arrest-related force were unarmed.
The vast majority of those killed were Black or Latino, outdistancing the population percentage of those racial groups in the city. For example, although Black people make up less than three percent of Anaheim's population, 12 percent of those who died following use-of-force by the police were Black.
The rate of police homicides is not related to Anaheim's crime rate. In fact, in 2014, the city was ranked second safest from violent crime of the 50 largest cities in the country, according to FBI statistics.
Another factor uncovered by the report examines officers who are involved in multiple shooting incidents. Just over half of the Anaheim Police Department's fatal shootings were done by officers who had been involved in at least one other shooting.
"The number of killings involving repeat shooters raises questions about Anaheim PD's handling of shootings, how effectively they identify officers that use deadly force too easily and their inability to keep officers involved in one fatal shooting from killing again," the report says.
The primary recommendation made in the report is that a new, independent oversight body be created to provide meaningful civilian supervision of the police. This new body must be beholden to the community rather than the police department and other city agencies.
The report also calls on the Anaheim Police Department to reform its use-of-force and other policies.