Friday, December 2, 2011

Unlike What the Movies Tell Us, In the Real World Police Rarely Fire Their Weapons

One Good Movie Can Have More Police Shootings Than An Entire Year in New York City

Dial Up (now there’s an old expression) your favorite action movie and count how many times the law enforcement folks exchange gunfire with the bad people.  Now take a look at the real data, the report on the number of times police fired their weapons in that center of criminal activity, New York City.

The 33 instances in which an officer intentionally shot at a suspect last year represented a 30 percent decrease from the year before. But it reflected a far greater drop since the department began keeping these records in 1971, a year in which the police in New York City fatally shot 93 people and injured 221 others.

Yes, all told for the entire year of 2010 there were only 33 times in which police pulled their weapons and took a shot at would be or actual criminals.

But when the police do shoot, they shoot a lot.

 In one case, four officers fired 46 times on two men at a Harlem block party; one man died, while the other lived after being struck by 23 bullets.

Unfortunately the news article does not expand on how the man with 23 bullet wounds survived.  One hopes that it was because police were trying not to kill the person, rather than just bad aim on the part of the officers. 

It also turns out that in 30 of the 33 shootings, the police faced citizens who had guns, or who had knives or other blades.  This is very good news.

The report also pointed out that the police responded to 206,874 radio calls involving reports of weapons, nearly all of which ended without the police firing a shot. In a force of 34,565 officers, only 00.15 percent intentionally fired at people last year, the report said.

 The New York City police department has had a number of horrific incidents in the past where unarmed and unthreatening people have been shot.  At least for 2010 New York City’s police appear to have learned how to do their jobs without looking like a bad action movie.

There were also incidents involving animals.

The report also considers 29 instances in which officers fired on dogs, and in one case, a raccoon.

The report apparently did not state whether or not the raccoon was armed and dangerous.  And an even greater mystery is what the heck was a raccoon doing in New York City in the first place.

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