• Alaska Police Officer Use of Deadly Force: 2010-2020

      Payne, Troy C.; Kisarauskas, Yevgenii; Henderson, Robert E. (Alaska Justice Information Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2021-04-21)
      The Alaska Department of Law Office of Special Prosecutions (OSP) and the Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC) partnered to answer two questions regarding police officer use of deadly force. First, to what extent existing OSP investigative casefiles could be used to fully describe the nature of uses of lethal force incidents in Alaska. Second, to describe lethal use of force incidents using the available information. We found that while OSP casefiles files contained sufficient information for OSP’s purpose of determining whether criminal charges are warranted under the circumstances, the OSP casefiles lacked some information of interest to policymakers and the public. AJiC analyzed all OSP casefiles involving officer uses of lethal force from 2010 to October 2020, covering a total of 92 incidents, 100 citizens, and 295 officers. Just over half of citizens died as a result of the incident in which deadly force was used, with another quarter sustaining serious injuries. Nearly every citizen involved displayed or used a weapon. No human officers were killed in the incidents reviewed, but two police dogs were killed, and three officers were seriously injured. Over a third of incidents involved the citizen making statements indicating they wanted to commit suicide-by-cop, and over two-thirds of incidents involved a citizen exhibiting some indication of mental illness during the incident. A third of incidents involved a citizen who had consumed alcohol, and methamphetamine/amphetamine was the most common drug other than alcohol, involved in more than a quarter of incidents. We offer the following recommendations for data collection based on our project: 1. The State of Alaska should develop a comprehensive statewide data collection regarding police officer uses of lethal force housed at an agency that can compile and use the information to drive policy. 2. OSP casefiles can serve as a starting point for data collection, but OSP case files cannot be the sole data source. 3. The development of a comprehensive data collection platform should include mandatory standardized data elements, starting with the FBI’s National Use-of-Force Data Collection Elements. 4. Other data elements should be considered for inclusion by a broad group of stakeholders from inside and outside of the criminal justice system. 5. Detailed use of lethal force incident data should be public where possible — but that may not always be possible or advisable.