Elmira Police among the most “use of force” incidents, per NYS report; EPD says data was “misrepresented”

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – A report released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services says the Elmira Police Department had 101 “total use of force incidents” and three that resulted in death from July 11, 2019, to October 31, 2020.

The only departments that had more total use of force incidents (according to the report) than Elmira Police are the NYC Police Department (1,916), New York State Police (289), Suffolk County Police (207), Rochester Police (142), Syracuse Police (113), and Troy City Police (103).

State law requires each police department, sheriff’s office, and the New York State Police to report incidents in which a police officer or peace officer used force against an individual while on duty to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services

The inaugural report provides a statistical overview of 6,052 use of force incidents that occurred
from the law’s effective date through Oct. 31, 2020, and reported by 280 police agencies.

Elmira Police, according to the report, had 54 use of force incidents involving a firearm, 15 using a chemical agent, 73 using an “Impact or Electronic Control Weapon,” 0 chokehold restraints, and 3 use of force incidents that resulted in a death.

An Elmira Police officer was charged in the August 2019 death of Gary Strobridge after responding to a domestic incident where a taser was used on Strobridge after he allegedly attacked officers multiple times.

Excluding the New York City Police Department, whose death numbers were not listed in the report, Elmira’s three deaths are tied for the most in the state. New York State Police and Syracuse Police also had three deaths and the total number of deaths, excluding New York City Police, was 16.

In comparison locally, Elmira Heights Police reported only two “total use of force incidents” and Horseheads Village Police reported four total incidents, two with a firearm and two with an “Impact or Electronic Control Weapon.”

According to Elmira Police Chief Anthony Alvernaz, “preliminary review of these data fields shows inconsistencies with department records. The Elmira Police Department is currently looking into the matter and hopes to identify how the data was misrepresented as to better clarify the actual use of force incidents.”

The Chemung County Sheriff’s Office reported 24 total use of force incidents and 43 types of force reported. Twenty-five of those incidents involved a firearm, one involved a Chemical Agent, and 17 involved an “Impact or Electronic Control Weapon.”

In Steuben County, Hornell Police reported seven total use of force incidents, 17 total types of force reported, 11 incidents involving a firearm, one involving a chemical agent, and five with an “Impact or Electronic Control Weapon.”

Corning Police reported only one use of force incident, which involved an Impact or Electronic Control Weapon.

The Steuben County Sheriff’s Office reported only three use of force incidents, all of which were using a chemical agent.

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office reported 10 total use of force incidents, 11 types of force reported, three involving a firearm, six using an “Impact or Electronic Control Weapon,” and two using a chokehold/restraint.

The New York City Police Department reported 1,916 total use of force incidents with 2,250 total types of force reported.

In New York, 48 percent of types of use of force involved an impact weapon or electronic control weapon. Firearms were used 36 percent of the time and chemical agents were used 16 percent. Less than one percent of incidents involved a chokehold/similar restraint, serious bodily injury, or death.

Sixty-three percent of all New York use of force incidents reported involved only one officer, while 20 percent of incidents involved two. Fifty-nine percent of incidents involved one officer and one subject and 17 percent involved two officers and one subject.

Of the 7,011 subjects arrested with use of force in New York, 49 percent were Black and 46 percent were white. Eighty-six percent were men and 20 percent were between the ages of 25-29.

Demographics among the officers involved in use of force incidents show 76 percent were white, 91 percent were male, and 53 percent were between the ages of 25-34.

The full report can be read below

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