Auburn Police Department officials provided a presentation at the Auburn City Council’s June 12 study session reviewing the department’s 2022 performance metrics.
The department analyzed statistical data regarding the number of commendations, inquiries and allegations within the department; use of force incidents; and number of vehicle pursuits.
Conducting comparisons to previous years’ data, department heads offered potential explanations for changes in trends and answered the questions of city council members.
Commendations, inquiries, allegations
Police Commander Todd Byers and Chief Mark Caillier led a discussion of the first report regarding the number and nature of commendations awarded to staff as well as inquiries and allegations within the department in 2022.
According to the annual report, the department uses commendations to recognize actions and performance of members of the department for professionalism, exemplary jobs and actions, and life saving and heroism.
Members of the department received 44 commendations in 2022, a decrease from previous years’ numbers including 124 in 2021, 167 in 2020, and 93 in 2019.
Byers said changes to categories potentially resulted in the decrease in the number of commendations reported.
“We changed some of our categories to where we also gather what we call a supervisor note … if somebody does something good in a day,” Byers said. “In years past, that may have been categorized as a commendation whereas I may have categorized those entries as a note instead (this year).”
In addition to commendations, additional awards department staff received in 2022 included six letters of commendation, three life saving medals, and one tactical medal for de-escalating a situation.
According to the report, internal investigations involve complaints of potential violations of department standards, written directives, city policies, and applicable civil service rules. Examples include bias based policing, excessive force, alleged corruption, insubordination, and more.
Byers said internal investigations served as the “more serious allegations that we investigate.”
“A majority of the department’s complaints are initiated internally,” Byers said. “A supervisor or somebody in the department recognizes something and it gets brought up the chain and elevated to an internal investigation.”
The department conducted six internal investigations in 2022, consistent with six investigations in 2022, and a decrease from the nine internal investigations of 2020 and the 18 of 2019.
Out of the six internal investigations involving four employees in total, the department found misconduct in four of the investigations and found three of the four employees guilty of misconduct. Byers explained the department found one of the employees guilty of misconduct in two internal investigations.
No external complaints outside of the department led to an internal investigation in 2022.
In 2022, the department conducted nine supervisory investigations, down from 10 in 2021. The department provided no data regarding supervisory investigations in 2020 and 2019.
The department found unacceptable performance in four of the nine supervisory investigations, with five employees found with unacceptable performance.
In 2022, the department conducted 19 supervisory inquiries in comparison to 10 in 2021, 21 in 2020, and 11 in 2019.
Supervisory inquiries normally concern police procedure questions: “why we did what we did and why we didn’t do what we didn’t do,” Byers said.
Out of 19, the department determined unacceptable performance in three of the inquiries, with four employees determined to have demonstrated unacceptable performance.
“One of those was someone complaining about two employees at the same time,” Byers explained.
In 2022, the Seattle Police Department investigated an allegation of criminal misconduct against an Auburn officer and filed charges with the King County Prosecutor’s Office, resulting in criminal charges against the officer and termination following an internal investigation, according to the report. An ongoing investigation against a separate employee and incident with the Puyallup Police Department conducting investigations remains ongoing as of June.
In regards to total disciplinary actions taken for internal investigations and supervisory investigations and inquiries in 2022, 10 employees received coaching, one received a written reprimand, two received suspensions, one received no conclusion, and the department dismissed one employee.
The department documented a downtrend in the number of collisions annually in the department, from 19 in 2019, to 18 in 2020, to 17 in 2021, and 16 in 2022.
Of the 16 collisions in 2022, eight resulted from driver inattention, two from improper backing, two from poor tactics, and four served as non preventable, with the “other driver at fault,” according to the report.
Out of the 12 preventable collisions, 11 employees received coaching and one employee received a written reprimand as disciplinary action.
Use of force
Commander Dave Colglazier and Chief Caillier led the second discussion regarding the department’s annual use of force review, documenting and summarizing all uses of force in 2022.
Colglazier said he used bodycam footage in writing and creating data for the annual report.
Officers used force in 88 incidents in 2022, with 133 use of force reports completed.
In 2021, the department documented 130 uses of force, with 231 uses of force in 2020 and 214 in 2019.
The number of force reports exceeded the number of incidents because at times multiple officers used force on one suspect, according to the report.
Colglazier described the number of use of force incidents in 2022 and 2021 as “way down from previous years.”
Colglazier attributed the decrease to factors including legislative changes.
“Officers were just uncertain whether force could be used in some situations,” Colglazier said.
Of the 88 incidents in 2022, 43 suspects reported injuries, with all injuries photographed and noted.
According to the report, a majority of complaints involved minor scrapes, bruises, small lacerations, K-9 contacts, and complaints of pain with no visible injury.
The department received one allegation of excessive force in 2022 with the incident investigated and findings of misconduct determined.
According to Colglazier, the department internally generated the one allegation based on viewing the force report and the in-car video of the incident.
According to the report, officers used takedowns most frequently out of all categories of use of force, with takedowns used 43 times in 2022. Additional force types used frequently included miscellaneous force types classified as “other,” and taser deployment.
“Consistently over the years, takedown has been the biggest use of force because a lot of times, if it’s gonna be hands on with somebody, taking them to the ground … is usually fairly effective,” Colglazier said.
According to a departmental breakdown of suspect injuries, no uses of force have resulted in broken bones in the last three years. The department reported use of force resulted in cuts, bruises and scrapes to 27 suspects; 18 suspects received injuries from taser deployment; 17 suspects reported pain; and two suspects sustained K9-related injuries.
Officers initiated a majority of uses of force in 2022 as a result of suspects attempting to escape and suspects refusing commands, according to the report.
A majority of use of force incidents involved male suspects, with the department identifying 84% of the suspects officers used force on as male.
The department identified approximately 42% of suspects officers used force on as white, 27% as Black, 17% as Hispanic, 7% as Asian, 3% as Native American, and 4% as unknown.
Caillier prefaced discussions on the data regarding race.
“When we talk about race, a majority of our calls we’re dispatched to, so we don’t control who we’re going out (to) and what the circumstances are,” Caillier said. “When we look at the numbers on race they can be misleading. It just depends on the circumstances of the call.”
Commander Todd Byers led discussions regarding the department’s annual reporting on vehicular pursuits in 2022.
According to Byers, the total number of pursuits in 2022 was six, and served as the lowest number in the department since 1997.
He attributed the decrease primarily to legislative changes in Washington in 2021 in regards to policing that increased the burden of proof and standards required to initiate vehicular pursuit of a suspect.
According to the report, the department initiated 100% of pursuits in 2022 as a result of a felony suspect.
“It used to be we would chase a stolen vehicle, we would chase for lesser crimes. That’s not an option. Everything we chase now is for a serious felony crime,” Byers said.
According to Byers, the legislative changes have led to changes in training for officers, as officers require permission from a supervisor in order to initiate a pursuit, and therefore training now centers more on high speed driving than in the decision making process regarding initiation of a pursuit.