Annual Use of Force Administrative Review and Analysis


TO: Daniel Slaughter, Chief of Police

FROM: Lieutenant Todd Johnson, Office of Professional Standards

CC: Deputy Chief Eric Gandy

RE: Annual Use of Force Administrative Review and Analysis - 2020

DATE: January 7, 2021

In accordance with policy and accreditation standards, the Office of Professional Standards conducted an administrative review and analysis of use of force incidents for 2020. As required by accreditation standards, the review addressed agency policy, training, equipment, and disciplinary issues, and the analysis includes a presentation of use of force data, identification of problem areas (if any), and recommendations, if needed.

Agency Policies

Agency policy outlines and defines the various subject resistance levels and officer response levels. Subject factors are also outlined within policy. The primary guide as it pertains to use of force is outlined in policy as follows: “Employees of the Clearwater Police Department, while engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty, will use only the force necessary to affect their legal duty. The use of necessary force is permitted only after all other reasonable means of effecting compliance have failed. Unnecessary or excessive force shall not be tolerated”.

In 2020, national events concerning police use of force resulted in the Presidential Executive Order on Safe Policing and subsequent accreditation standard additions and revisions concerning use of force. The agency also entered an agreement with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies for the investigation of deadly force used by officers. In 2020, these events prompted the review of the use of force policy that resulted in some revisions with others to follow in 2021. In 2020, clarification to policy was made concerning the banning of chokeholds except in deadly force encounters. Also, clear language was added to express the agency’s expectation of an officer’s duty to intervene in situations where excessive force is witnessed. The policy is currently under further review to also add language concerning the implementation of the Pinellas County Use of Deadly Force Task Force and to ensure compliance with all recently revised accreditation standards.

Concerning the review of use of force incidents, agency policy requires officers to document use of force incidents via a police report and a use of force incident report within the Blue Team system. Policy requires a supervisor to respond to use of force incidents to conduct a preliminary investigation into the incident. Once the officer has completed the required documentation, the reviewing supervisor must review the police report and the Blue Team Use of Force incident for compliance issues and proper documentation. Beginning in 2021, the supervisors will also be required to review body-worn camera video of involved officers. The supervisor is expected to take advantage of any teaching opportunities with their personnel and document any training or counseling completed. Once reviewed, the supervisor forwards the incident to the district lieutenant to complete the same review. Once reviewed, the lieutenant then forwards the incident to the division commander for review. At all levels, reviewing supervisors are required to document what their individual review encompassed and their finding.

The agency continues to report applicable incidents as a participant of the FBI Use of Force Data Collection program.


During the orientation period, new officers are instructed on the agency’s use of force policy and are required to accept the policy through PowerDMS. In addition, all sworn personnel and non-sworn personnel that carry OC spray (Traffic PSTs and CSIs) receive use of force review training annually at a minimum. In 2020, training included a three use of force reviews, classroom and scenario training for the new Taser 7 platform, active assailant scenario training, tactical first aid, less-lethal weapon training and qualification, and firearms training and qualifications.


Issued equipment to properly protect officers and citizens in use of force situations is adequate. Equipment is inspected regularly to ensure functionality. Research is also conducted regularly to evaluate the necessity of equipment upgrades. In 2020, the agency upgraded to the new Taser 7 platform.

Disciplinary Issues

As mentioned above, all use of force incidents are thoroughly reviewed by the involved officer’s chain of command to determine if the officer’s actions were within policy guidelines. In 2020, there were seven (7) complaints of excessive force made by citizens. The complaints were properly investigated and reviewed by the appropriate chain of command and subsequently determined to be unfounded. The review process is comprehensive and has shown to work from historical cases. There are no recommended changes to this process.

Use of Force Analysis

2019 2020 % Change
Use of Force Incidents 175 130 -26%
Officer Response Levels
Presence 177 130 -27%
Communication 176 124 -30%
Restraint Devices 125 89 -29%
Pain Compliance 15 9 -40%
Transporters 22 18 -18%
Take Downs 109 75 -31%
OC Spray 4 3 -25%
Taser 49 39 -20%
Counter Moves 23 24 +4%
Intermediate Weapon(s) 2 1 -50%
Incapacitation 2 0 -100%
Deadly Force 4 2 -50%
Show of Force
Pointed Firearm 51 45 -12%


Subject Resistance Levels
2019 2020 % Change
Presence 176 130 -26%
Verbal 149 120 -20%
Passive Physical 144 114 -21%
Active Physical 170 121 -29%
Aggressive Physical 56 44 -21%
Aggravated Physical 4 6 +50%
Knowledge/Belief subject was Armed/Dangerous 41 70 +71%


Race/Gender Of Subject
2019 2020 % Change
White Male 57 57 0%
White Female 13 6 -54%
Black Male 73 40 -45%
Black Female 12 7 -42%
Hispanic Male 15 16 +7%
Hispanic Female 2 2 0%
Asian Male 0 0 0%
Asian Female 0 0 0%
Other Male 4 1 -75%
Other Female 0 0 0%


Use Of Force By Location
2019 2020 % Change
District I 37 25 -32%
District II 80 61 -24%
District III 51 38 -26%
Out of the City 7 7 0%


Injuries During Use Of Force
2019 2020 % Change
Subjects injured 113 68 -40%
Officers injured 28 31 +11%


Overall, use of force incidents had a 26% decrease. The significant decrease is likely due to the pandemic that began early in the year that resulted in altered operational responses. With the decrease, almost all individual categories also had decreases. Therefore, to accomplish a more useful analysis, the ratios of certain categories were also reviewed. While most ratios were insignificant, some are worth noting.

The number of potentially armed and dangerous subjects increased significantly. In 2019, when there was a use of force or show of force incident, it was believed or known that the subject(s) the officers confronted were armed 19% of the time. In 2020, that increased to 40%. In 2019, this resulted in officers pointing their firearm at an individual(s) 21% of the time during these encounters. In 2020, that increased to 35%. These situations have a greater potential to result in deadly force being used by officers; however, even with the increase in potentially armed encounters, there were no uses of deadly force by officers in 2020.

Communication and de-escalation techniques were used during 95% of use of force incidents and are typically the first option for officers, when possible, prior to the need to use force on a suspect. When force is necessary, officers continue to use hands-on techniques such as take-downs, pain compliance, transporters, and counter moves more often than less-lethal weapons like the Taser and OC spray by a margin of 3 to 1. Take-downs are the most common hands-on technique, used 58% of the time, while Tasers are the most common less-lethal weapon option, used 30% of the time.

In 2019, suspects were injured 65% of the time during a use of force encounter. In 2020, that decreased to 52%. While suspect injuries decreased, officer injuries increased even with the overall use of force incidents decreasing. In 2019, officers were injured 16% of the time during use of force encounters. In 2020, that increased to 24%.

Of the 130 use of force incidents in 2020, 59% occurred while making an arrest, which equates to force being used in 3% of the 4249 arrests made in 2020. 16% of the use of force incidents involved a combative subject, and 15% involved a subject assaulting the officer.

For the demographic categories, force was used against white individuals in 49% of the incidents, black individuals in 36% of the incidents, and Hispanic individuals in 14% of the incidents. Most use of force was used against males (88%).

For all categories, the data was within reason when compared to the total use of force incidents.

Taser Drive Stun Analysis

A closer analysis was conducted as it pertains to the drive stun feature of the Taser. The drive stun involves the use of the Taser without using the barbs. Reviewing the last three years, this feature was utilized just 14 times, or during 3% of use of force encounters. In 2020, the feature was used 7 times.

Evaluating the effectiveness, the drive stun proved to be effective 64% of the time, have only a limited effect 14% of the time, and no effect 21% of the time. Policy states officers should avoid delivering more than three-consecutive (five-second) applications of the Taser in any form. Of the 14 drive stun application incidents reviewed, 9 (64%) required only one application and were all effective, 4 (29%) required two applications with only half being effective, and 1 (7%) required three applications, which were not effective. Although there were some ineffective applications, there were cases that would have likely resulted in additional applications of physical force absent the drive stun method. The area of the body for the applications reviewed were primarily to the upper torso (abdomen, back, shoulder).

Of the 14 applications reviewed, the suspects were impaired or intoxicated 57% of the time. Active physical resistance was the highest level of resistance 71% of the time and aggressive physical 29% of the time.


While there was a 26% decrease in use of force incidents, this was to be expected as the pandemic began to effect operational plans early in the year. The individual data points were proportionate to the total number of incidents. Overall, the uses of force incidents appear to be consistent with agency guidelines, and there is no evidence of a pattern of improper response to resistance or bias on the part of the involved officers. Subsequently, there are no identifiable problem areas that warrant recommendations beyond current agency practice and training.