Orlando officers' use of force is 'minute,' police chief says

Mina explains drop in use of force, expresses concerns over officer injuries

Photo does not have a caption

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Police Chief John Mina is proud of his new statistics: a 22.82 percent drop in arrests involving the use of force by officers in 2016, compared to 2015 (399 responses to resistance incidents compared to 517) and 17.8 percent fewer offenders injured requiring medical treatment.

Mina credits his officers focusing on what he calls "quality over quantity."

"I think we're being more focused, concentrating on the worst of the worst," Mina said. "This is a great community, it's a very small percentage of people committing the serious crimes."

Mina also believes de-escalation training that officers go through and police body cameras are other reasons for the decrease.

"Both the officers and the bad guys know they're going to be on camera," Mina said. "It decreases bad behavior."

Mina said last year his officers made nearly 60,000 traffic stops and more than 13,000 arrests.

"And the use of force regarding those incidents is minute," Mina said.

Mina said overall, the numbers paint a positive picture.

"Well, there's fewer arrests but also crime continues to decrease," Mina said. "So I would be alarmed if there were fewer arrests and crime was the increase. That is getting crime results. Crime going down, arrests going down, community engagement going up."

Five suspects involved in use of force incidents filed excessive force complaints, but Mina insists that's a huge improvement from when four officers in 2014 were either charged, indicted or arrested for violence.

"We only use force on about three of 100 people we arrest," Mina saod. "So we think those are good numbers."

Mina said there were 13,092 arrests in 2016, and response to resistance was used in about 3 percent of those arrests.

Mina is concerned about one statistic that increased: More officers required medical treatment last year. Thirty of the 87 officers who were battered while making arrests required medical treatment, compared to 18 officers in 2015.

"It is concerning," Mina said. "Oh I do believe in this day and age more people are resisting arrest and willing to fight with the officers more than ever before."

Mina pointed to increased ambushes, shootings and even murders of law enforcement officers nationwide, including the murder of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton at an Orlando Walmart in January. Markeith Loyd is accused of shooting Clayton in the Walmart parking lot and continuing to fire at her while standing over her as she laid helplessly on the ground.

Mina said besides de-escalation training, his officers also train for situations like the one Clayton encountered.

Concerning the national trend of some distrust between law enforcement and some communities, Mina addressed whether officers would potentially back off in certain situations to avoid being in the media spotlight.

"It's possible, but I think the vast majority of officers are going to use force to protect themselves, to protect the citizens," Mina said.

He insisted that if officers must use force and are justified, they have his support.

"There will be times we have to use force, I don't think that's ever going to stop," Mina said. "But anytime we can see the numbers decreasing I think is a good thing."

About the Author: