An Oct. 5 public meeting released data which revealed the Tacoma Police Department engaged in 12 officer-involved shootings over the past five years — with zero shootings in 2014. Assistant Chief Kathy McAlpine said the department decided to track the data it felt was most important to the community.
President Obama unveiled the White House Police Data Initiative in 2015 in an effort to quell rising civil unrest across the nation. The initiative encouraged police departments to select specific areas of police duty to track, including use of force, vehicle stops, pedestrian stops and total calls for service. To date, 53 police departments around the nation are participating.
Tacoma police chose to track officer-involved shootings and officer complaints. Anyone researching the data can find date, time and location of shootings as well as age, gender, and race of involved officers.
Since 2012, 12 officer-involved shootings occurred — with all 12 occurring in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. 2014 saw zero officer-involved shootings. Only one shooting was deemed “not within policy,” and the officer was counseled and received additional training. A shooting that occurred in August of this year is still under investigation.
Data was not available on whether suspects were armed during shootings or whether suspects survived the officer-involved shootings.
There are 147 officer complaints to date. Complaints can be filed against officers for a variety of reasons, including unsatisfactory performance, dangerous vehicle operation, poor courtesy and unbecoming conduct. The findings of the complaints — not sustained, sustained, or exonerated — are also listed. Recourse against officers with sustained complaints is not listed.
There are currently four full-time employees dedicated to compiling the data needed to participate in the initiative. Tacoma police do not plan to expand the categories being tracked.
Those in attendance expressed the importance of body cam implementation, something Police Chief Don Ramsdell verified was in the works.
The department is also working on making police policies available to the public. Procedures regarding use of force, handling of complaint allegations, and complaint allegations are currently available through the data portal.
The Spokane and Seattle police departments are also participating in the initiative. Multiple residents in the community complained about treatment by the Lakewood police, who have not enlisted in the program. Ramsdell advised that concerned citizens contact Lakewood’s police chief Mike Zaro.
The department will hold another public meeting on Oct. 27 at the Asian Pacific Cultural Center in Tacoma.