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Pittsburgh police release use of force report

By Alexa Bakalarski / Assistant News Editor

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A report released Thursday evening by the Pittsburgh police found that, from 2010 to 2015, one in 10 arrests in the city have involved the use of force.

Additionally, there was a “higher-than-expected” rate for the use of force against black individuals over the past six years, although the disproportionality between use of force against black and white people is decreasing.

The report, released Thursday by city police, is part of a partnership with the White House Police Data initiative, which also includes 12 other cities in the Unites States, according to a press release from the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety. The initiative aims to use data to make community policing more transparent.

“Quality policing is characterized by fairness in how we treat all citizens,” Police Chief Cameron McLay said in the introduction of the report. “On occasion, quality policing will include use of force — but only when necessary to make an arrest, prevent an escape, in self defense and/or to save others from bodily harm.”

In Pittsburgh, incidents involving the use of force decreased 16 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to the report. The International Association of Chiefs of Police defines force as “the amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject.”  Force can, and sometimes does, result in injury to the person subject or the officer.  

The study can be found online at the Pittsburgh Public Safety website. Here are some more key findings from the report:

  • In 2014 and 2015, the total number of use of force incidents averaged just over 1,500.
  • The number of police use-of-force incidents fell 16 percent in the six-year study period.  


  • 34 percent of incidents resulted in injury to a suspect. This number is low compared to a 39 percent average suspect-injury rate among the other 12 participant cities in the study.


  • Most officers used force between one and five times over the six-year period.


  • 120 officers reported using force more than 25 times.


  • From 2010 to 2015, there was a 35 percent decrease in the number of subject injuries, and a 32 percent decrease in the number of officer injuries during the report’s span.

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Pittsburgh police release use of force report