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Site lacks full Valley use-of-force information

Index activated, but few departments submit data

WARREN — The state revealed access this month to its searchable database providing information about officer-involved use-of-force incidents, as voluntarily reported by police departments and sheriff’s departments across the state.

In the Mahoning Valley, Bazetta, Weathersfield, Austintown, Poland, Boardman, Beaver and Springfield have reports listed in the database.

Because participation in the system is voluntary, however, it is unclear if Mahoning Valley departments not represented in the data do not have use-of-force incidents to report, or if the departments haven’t submitted their data into the database created by the Office of Criminal Justice Services.

The online database includes reports of shots fired at or in the direction of a person, the use of any other lethal weapon or object used as a lethal weapon, the use of a less-than-lethal weapon or other object used as such on a person, and the use of any empty hand technique on a person.

The data can be filtered by law enforcement agency, county, initial contact circumstances, location type, subject resistance type, whether the subject was armed or believed to be armed with a weapon, any subject impairment, officer type, officer response / force type and also subject and officer race / ethnicity, gender and injury data.

To access the database, visit www.ocjs.ohio.gov and click on the “Ohio Use of Force Data” link, which is a part of the Ohio Incident-Based Reporting System.

More than 200 Ohio law enforcement agencies covering about 25 percent of the population have voluntarily reported some 5,500-plus use of force reports through the database since 2018. OCJS opened the database for public access this month to increase transparency.

The use-of-force standard was developed by the Ohio Collaborative Police-Community Advisory Board in 2015. A total of 572 law enforcement agencies have been certified on use of force and recruitment and hiring, covering 85 percent of Ohio’s population and sworn officers, according to the office. The data helps Ohio identify the scenarios that most often lead to use of force so that specific de-escalation training can be offered to officers; and can be used by OCJS to direct federal grants into targeted areas to help improve community-police relations.

TRUMBULL COUNTY

In Trumbull County, nine incidents have been reported for 2021, with seven in Weathersfield and two in Bazetta.

In Bazetta, officers were responding to a call about suspicious activity at a doctor’s office in August when a Taser-like device was used on a man who failed to comply with verbal commands, was thought to have a weapon or had a weapon and was not impaired. The township officers were in a parking lot for a traffic stop in September for the second incident.

The subjects were white men, as were the officers, and none of the officers were injured. One of the men reported a minor injury.

Weathersfield officers were responding to domestic disturbances, reports of suspicious activity, a medical call / welfare assistance and conducting traffic stops. Five of the seven interactions were with white people, and all but one were men. All of the officers were white men, and none of them were injured. The types of resistance the subjects used, as reported by the departments, included similar categories to the incidents in Mahoning County, but also included a man displaying a firearm to an officer or another.

MAHONING COUNTY

In Mahoning County, there were 15 reported incidents, all in 2021. Nine were in Austintown, two were in Poland, two in Springfield, one in Boardman and one in Beaver.

Three of the incidents involved people with a mental health condition and five incidents involved alcohol impairment, according to the database. All but two of the subjects involved in the incidents were men and 10 of them were white. All of the police officers were men, with the exception of one, and all of the officers were white. One of the subjects was armed, or thought to be armed.

Five minor injuries were reported among the subjects, and one minor injury was reported by a Boardman police officer on a domestic disturbance call.

The types of resistance the departments reported the subjects used included failing to comply to verbal commands; non-violent, passive resistance; pulling away; deadweight; resisting being handcuffed; wrestling with the officer or another; punching, kicking the officer or another and attempting to flee from custody.

In addition to domestic disturbances, officers were responding to calls for suspicious activity and conducting traffic stops during most of the incidents.

The types of force officers used includes balance displacement, empty hand technique, take down, a restraining hold and one use of an electronic control device, such as a Taser, used in August in Austintown with a subject with mental health issues who punched or kicked the officer or another.

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