Use of Force Reporting – New Zealand

“For monitoring purposes and to enhance public trust and confidence through transparency.”

[THANKS to Prof. Gary Cordner for alerting us to this important example of documenting and reporting police use of force to the community. A very good example! Every police department in America should be offering such a report.]

“The Annual Tactical Options Research Report covers the 2016 calendar year (1 January to 31 December), with a focus on all tactical options. It is part of an external tactical options reporting series produced by Response and Operations: Research and Evaluation, Police National Headquarters, for monitoring purposes and to enhance public trust and confidence through transparency.”

Key findings in New Zealand (2016)

Police rarely used tactical options when engaging with the public.

  • 99.9% of recorded face-to-face interactions with the public1 involved no use of tactical options.
  • 8,051 tactical options were used at 5,055 TOR events in 2016.Mental health was perceived as a relevant factor at 19% of events involving Police use of force.• Subjects at TOR events who were perceived as suffering from mental distress were more likely to display aggressive behaviour and be armed compared to subjects with no perceived mental distress.
  • • Subjects in mental distress were more likely to have handcuffs and restraints and TASER used on them; and were less likely to have dogs used or firearms presented at them.
  • • Differences in deployment of tactical options seems largely influence by whether subjects were armed. However, irrespective of whether they were armed, subjects in mental distress were more likely to have a TASER discharged at them, with a show to discharge ratio of 4:1 (compared to 6:1 for subjects with no perceived mental distress).
  • Most of the tactical options used were lower levels of force.The three most common tactical options deployed were: empty hand tactics (40% of TOR events), handcuffs and restraints (37%), and OC spray (27%).
  • Firearms (9%), dogs (6%), baton (1%), and sponge rounds and ‘other’ tactical options (<1%) were used least frequently at TOR events.
  • TASER was deployed (ie, shown or discharged) at 26% of TOR events.Most TASER events did not involve TASER discharge.TASER ‘shows’ (ie, presentation, laser pointing, or arcing) were the highest mode of deployment at 85% of TASER events.
    • TASER was discharged (ie, contact stun or discharge with probes) at 15% of TASER TOR events (1% contact stun and 14% discharge with probes).
    • Overall, this equates to a TASER ‘show’ to ‘discharge’ ratio of 6:1. This varies from 12:1 in Central District to 3:1 in Counties Manukau District.Injuries at TOR events were uncommon.
    • 18% of TOR events resulted in an injury to the subject (9% minor, 7% moderate and 1% serious).
    • Firearms (0%), TASER (2% – excluding superficial probe injuries), and OC spray (3%) had the lowest subject injury rates of all tactical options.
    • Staff were injured at 11% of TOR events (9% minor, 2% moderate, 0.4% serious).



  1. Is it fair to contrast this to police use of force in the United States – a much more diversified country? New Zealand’s population demographic is a combined 93% European, Native (Maori) and Samoan who are fully integrated into NZ society.


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