Auburn police arrests, use of force, bookings decrease in 2021

Use of force incidents were cut in half from 2020 to 2021.

The Auburn Police Department recorded fewer uses of force, arrests, bookings and citations in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to its annual Use of Force report.

On March 28, Auburn Police Chief Mark Caillier and Commander Dave Colglazier presented the annual report to the Auburn City Council. Colglazier said he believes the reduction in arrests is due to the police reform laws that went into effect on July 25, 2022.

In 2020, Auburn police made 3,629 arrests, but that number dropped to 2,990 in 2021, according to the report. Similarly, bookings into the South Correctional Entity (SCORE) jail dropped from 1,652 in 2020 to 1,067 in 2021.

Incidents in which Auburn police used force against a person were also down dramatically. In 2020, there were 179 use-of-force incidents compared to 83 in 2021 — a reduction of over 50%. This drop in use of force incidents is directly related to police reform legislation, Colgazier said.

From those 83 incidents, 130 reports were written by officers because oftentimes more than one officer will use force against a single suspect.

Under House Bill 1310, which was passed in 2021, police officers can only use force against a person when it is necessary to prevent criminal activity when there’s probable cause to make an arrest; to make an arrest; prevent an escape; or protect against an imminent threat of bodily injury.

The goal of the legislation was to require that officers use the least amount of force possible, and in Auburn’s case, it appears as though the legislation’s goal was achieved.

The Auburn Police Department also saw a reduction in the number of allegations of excessive use of force from seven in 2020 to only three in 2021. Two allegations were sustained in 2020 and one was sustained in 2021.

Despite a reduction in overall use of force incidents, the percentage of use of force incidents that lead to suspect injury was higher in 2021 than in previous years, according to the report. In 2021, 48% of use of force incidents resulted in an injury to the suspect, while in the three years prior to 2021, that number varied between 35% and 39%.

The most common injuries suspects sustained were cuts, bruises or scrapes, according to the report. There were no injuries caused by K-9s in 2021, partly due to a change in dogs and partly due to the new legislation, Colglazier said.

“There was a big halt on the use of K-9s with the legislation, and we had a transition of a couple of different dogs coming and going and new dogs in training,” Colglazier said.

This is a dramatic drop from 2018, when 27 suspects were injured by K-9s, according to the report.

Of the 130 officer reports on their use of force, the most common reason officers gave for their use of force was that a suspect was refusing commands, with 44 instances. The next most common was a suspect attempting to escape with 43 instances.

Nine use-of-force incidents resulted from an assault on an officer, and five from assaults on another person. There were 10 cases in which officers used force against someone whom the officers believed was about to assault an officer, according to the report.

Colglazier and Caillier ended their presentation by talking about the Auburn Police Department’s body-worn-camera program, which goes into effect on April 1.