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1G.005 Drug-related disorder diagnoses and demographic characteristics associated with legal intervention-related injuries
  1. Terry Bunn,
  2. Ashley Bush,
  3. Patrick Ward,
  4. Madison Liford
  1. University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA


Background Law enforcement official (LEO) use of force during suspect restraint/apprehension is a serious concern resulting in suspect and LEO injuries. Drug use has been identified as a factor in use-of-force incidents.

Methods This study characterized Kentucky LEO and suspect legal intervention (LI) related injuries and assessed associations between substance use disorder (SUD) diagnoses and demographic characteristics with ICD-10-CM coded LI emergency department (ED) injury visits for years 2016–2018. Logistic regression models examined the most common LEO and suspect injuries.

Results There was a larger proportion of LEO LI hand injury ED visits compared to suspects; there was a larger proportion of suspect LI head injury ED visits compared to LEOs. Among suspect LI ED visits, there were higher odds of head injury ED visits with a SUD (adjusted OR = 1.92), Appalachian county residence (adjusted OR = 1.45), or manhandling LI (adjusted OR = 1.42). No association was found between SUD diagnoses or demographic characteristics and LEO legal intervention hand-related injury ED visits.

Conclusions When de-escalation techniques fail and LI is required, LEO tactics other than use-of-force are recommended to reduce injuries. Crisis Intervention Team and other trainings may prove beneficial by reducing the need for force; in cases involving SUDs, it is recommended that suspects be referred to treatment.

Learning Outcomes LEOs should employ alternative tactics to reduce officer and suspect use-of-force injuries during LI. Safer options include control techniques, striking zones on suspects, and other tools and body parts when LEO de-escalation training techniques have failed.

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