A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany police report on use of force

Written June 15th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The Albany Police Department headquarters the way it looked one day last January.

With police shootings in the national news, it may be instructive to take a look at what the Albany police have reported in regard to their officers’ use of force.

We’re in luck, because the department has posted two reports on that subject on its website here.

The first covers all of 2019 and compares the data to 2017 and ’18. The second is the department’s first quarterly report, covering the first three months of 2020.

When I glanced through them Monday, I was struck by this: Officers report drawing their weapons quite a few times — more than a hundred times last year — but they didn’t shoot anyone. They didn’t shoot anyone in 2017, or in 2018, or 2019, or the first three months of this year.

It’s not that they don’t have occasion.

In one of the incidents summarized in the the 2019 report, officers were called to a domestic disturbance involving a “female subject,” her boyfriend, and his brother, a juvenile.

One thing led to another, and the juvenile got one of the officers in a headlock. Fighting for breath, the officer struggled to get free. When that failed, he “drew his service weapon and pointed it back towards Subject C and was able to tuck his chin to get some air and yelled that he would shoot.”

That took care of it, apparently, and the brothers were subdued and charged.

Of the 290 persons against whom force was used in 2019 — can we quit calling them “subjects” please — 248 or 86 percent were white. Twenty-two or 8 percent were Hispanic, 16 or 6 percent were black, and two each were listed as Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander.

Divided by gender, 78 percent were male. More than 200 of the 290 were between the ages of 20 and 50.

The city has announced a live Facebook conversation on “race and policing in Albany” for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 17. The participants are Police Chief Marcia Harnden, Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny, and Heather Carmichael, a pastor at The Grove church in Albany.

If you plan to take that in, you might want to go over these use-of-force reports first. (hh)

33 responses to “Albany police report on use of force”

  1. William Ayers says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Our police are much needed and much appreciated!

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Use of force disproportionately affect Albany’s Black community.

    The Black population percentage is 0.7%. Use of force is 6%.

    Force is used much less against the White and Hispanic communities, given their proportion of the population.

    I wonder how the Chief and DA will spin this reality.


    • steve johnson says:

      Just like National that I have seen on TV these last few weeks they act in a manner that whites don’t and over 80% of black boys are raised without a father so it appears yo need to look into this issue from where the issues start and quit the I’m trying to make it even and or its Racism. We all seen the looting and thats Moral issues with people to try and take advantage of a issue to steal in a Mob mentality and this needs to stop and people hold there own accountable which I hear none of or the 7500 black on black killings yearly yet hardly mentioned on National news channels.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        If Albany is going to have a serious conversation about use of force and race, then relevant information must be considered.

        The use of force percentages Hasso cited compute as follows:

        1. 5% of the Black adult population in Albany has been the recipient of physical force from APD.

        2. One half of one percent of the White and Hispanic adult population in Albany has been the recipient of physical force from APD.

        This is a disparity the APD needs to explain, no?

  3. James Engel says:

    Just what’s needed..more Monday Morning Quarter backing regarding how things should have been done. By people who wouldn’t do the job in the first place. Until you’ve been there on the street & done that as I did for 29 years you have no idea what so ever of how a situation can go sideways so fast. And I’ve been on the ground in a tussle more than once. I went home at the end of shift & he went to jail! If you are going to continually criticize me then go before me & handle the call.

    • Ean says:

      I don’t think looking back at your actions and determining ways you can do better should be taken so personally. Even in a job well done there are still things you could have done better. People shouldn’t take criticism or oversight personally.

      • James Engel says:

        Put a badge on Ean & go do the work. Then come back & tell me how to do it better.

        • ean says:

          As a professional in my field I still listen to people that are not professionals or have different areas of expertise. Highly concerning that you do not feel that way, I hope views like your are not prevalent on the force. Not saying you were bad at your job but you definitely could have been better. As the saying goes, good is the enemy of great.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      No argument whatsoever about the dangers law enforcement faces. However, considering what’s been happening (and shown on camera) and then reading about the previous incidents of problems with the same cop[s], the “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” is seriously long overdue!! There has got to be accountability and the ability to *quickly* remove these officers from PDs nationwide. Period!

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Ray, does APD have the same cultural and systemic problems other police departments in the nation do?

        I have to admit, you commenting as an outsider on what should happen in the PD’s of other cities is interesting to me. Catch my drift?

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          If Albany did have the same issues as the PDs making the news, I’m sure they too would be in the news. However, that’s not what I’m reading about our PD. That’s not to say there can be improvements – as in any enterprise. Our new chief seems to be tackling the issues head on with proactive outreach as Hasso stated.

      • James Engel says:

        To criticize from the sidelines is just that..criticism. You put on a badge Ray, take along Heather as backup, answer a few domestic calls, a fight or two, a few warrant services, a couple of high risk traffic stops, get threatened with a gun/knife just to get a small taste. Then come back with your politically correct & marshmellow ideas as how it should have been done better by us that did it! You people that want to sit in an office & postulate…. Action decisions are made on the street. Paper decisions are made in a comfy office.

  4. thomas cordier says:

    thanks HH for the overview. I was pleased that the “rules of engagement”
    which were in place during “Albany’s demonstration” recently included immediate arrests if violence against people or property destruction was started. The plan was in place so there was no uncertainty of response at APD and Linn County Sheriff.

  5. Rich Kellum says:

    What seems to be missing in all of the statistics nationwide is what the supposed perpetrator was doing when they had contact with the police when someone had force used against them……….
    What we get from the national news is “local guy had arm broken by the police while being arrested, and said I didn’t do nuthin” When what happened was ” guy has arm broken while trying to get away from being arrested for stealing tv from local store” but that doesn’t sell as many papers.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “What seems to be missing…”
      Right. So what was the necessity for the death of George Floyd?

      • Al Nyman says:

        Coach K is back to his usual in bringing up a case where the cops were wrong and are under indictment. What more should the black community wish for. OJ got away with murder and the black community celebrated in the streets and whites didn’t cause 100 of millions in damage and deaths of at least 2 black officers. And Coach I would point out that your fellow liberals don’t seem up to the challenge of stopping the anarchists and it is too bad you don’t live in the 6 blocks in Seattle so you could give us a first hand report.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          You’re conflating the issue of BAD cops killing vs.the anarchists/looters in other cities. Those folks absolutely deserve every bit of proper police enforcement & engagement to take them down. The active word is “proper.” And if I lived in Seattle, you can absolutely bet I would participate in the daytime protests – as I did in Albany.

      • Rich Kellum says:

        That is the whole point Ray, all we get is a piece of what happened, I make no excuses at all for what happened to him, there are a lot of folks out there who do not wait for the information to come out, and they jump to conclusions, I will tell you that a knee on the neck seems to be a conclusion but there are thousands of black folks who get killed every year in the Major cities and almost nothing is said and next to nothing is done about it, it seems that the only ones that are important enough to scream and riot about are the ones who are killed by the police. More is the pity

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          I agree “more is the pity” that you (and others) still don’t get it… :-(

          • Rich Kellum says:

            The fact that a guy is murdered is awful, that people have a right to protest is great, that some low lives then take advantage and steal and burn is reprehensible. Who doesn’t get it is the people who wait until the color of the skin is right or the profession of the killer is right to make a stink about it…. they should have been pounding on the doors of the Democrat politicians who have been making excuses why they are not responsible for the thousands of people killed every year in the inner cities where they get elected… but I guess that would make too much sense.

  6. Bill Kapaun says:

    How about mandatory jail time for resisting arrest?
    That would make at least some “perps” think twice and prevent matters from escalating.

    • Rick Staggenborg says:

      Part of the problem is that resisting arrest is subjective and very easily used to make a suspect look guilty or justify excessive use of force. I have no idea if this applies to Albany, but obviously it does in many other places around the country.

      The last thing we need to do if we want to address systemic racism is to add to the extraordinarily harsh consequences suffered by people of color from the disproportionate use of force, selective enforcement, imprisonment and use of bail and fines that can never reasonably expected to be paid off.

      They constitute a modern form of debt slavery from which it is often impossible to escape, especially when convictions of even minor infractions can make it impossible to get a decent job. Even McDonald’s rejects applicants for old pot possession convictions.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Well stated Rick…

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        I was raised to expect to get my butt kicked AND get myself in serious legal trouble if I resisted the police.
        It works!

        • Craig says:

          I was raised to believe that the police are here to protect and Serve? I have advised my children to never ask a cop for help.

          I just believe there are safer alternatives. Today society proves it.

    • Craig says:

      How about mandatory jail time for police who lie on their report?

      Shouldn’t police be held to a higher standard?

      How about revoking a policeman pension if they are found guilty of murder? Chauvin will receive over a million dollars EVEN if convicted.

      I also think that digitally altered photographs portrayed as news should be heavily fined.

  7. centrist says:

    The impressive point here is that use of force did not result in death. As you put it, they went to jail and you went home.
    Tells me two things
    APD is adept at control tools that don’t escalate quickly to arms discharge.
    The population is compliant with use of those tools.
    Thanks for your time.

  8. Ray Knight 115 (retired) says:

    Thank you Hasso. Always respected you as being an honest man, though I did not always agree with you while you were editor at DH.

    As with Jim Engel, I humbly served the citizens of Albany for a considerable length of time. What is remarkable about the history of “use of force” by APD is Deadly Force was used only three times during my 34 year tenure. Twice, incidents resulted in death and one resulted in injury.

    The number of incidents where deadly use could have justifiably been used is staggering. This indicates, at least to me, APD Officers are / were experts at deescalation.

    While I was working at APD, there was always pride in being able to talk a belligerent client into the back seat of a patrol car.

    I like to think the vast majority of those I worked with were badges of silver… not lead.

  9. William Ayers says:

    It should be obvious by now that most of the BLM and rioting issues are being helped significantly from behind the scenes by the Dems as a means of distraction from Bill Barr dropping the net on the whole Russia hoax and James Comey and the rest of the bunch of scoundels facing the consequences of their treasonous attempts the subvert a national election and unseat a duly elected president…sad to say, mission accomplished never mind the expense….to our country – to our police – to our cities and buisness owners. Sad and pathetic!

  10. chezz says:

    there are good cops and bad cops. I was married to one and saw both sides locally.
    He was in between.

  11. Debra Schmidtman says:

    The only way to make the statistics comparing race in “Use of Force” incidents meaningful is to compare how many incidents total for each race/ethnic group and how many required “use of force”. In other words, does one group have a higher incidence of police interactions that degenerate into a “use of force” situation? I’m not saying that’s true, because there is no available data on that, but if it is then the percentage of “use of force” incidents will be higher for that group.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Debra, I agree with you for as far as you take it, what you also have to take into account is how do the people react to being stopped by the police. If for example, if I get stopped and I have an active warrant, do I resist, or run? How I get treated if I simply submit when caught and how I get treated if I fight or run are two different things..

  12. Greg says:

    Sometimes you need an outsider to fix a problem.

    In the 1980s an Air Force Colonel uncovered massive corruption and shoddy work with various Army projects the Pentagon was overseeing, including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The Pentagon wanted to rush out the Bradley as fast as possible so various army desk jockeys could score post army defense contractor gigs


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