New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly has hired the Rand Corp. to review police weapons training in light of the controversial shooting of Sean Bell, the New York Daily News reports. Rand will “look at the latest technology to improve officer responses in highly stressful situations,” Kelly said, and seek ways to reduce “contagious” shooting, the phenomenon of officers firing an excessive number of shots once one cop opens fire. Bell, 23, who was unarmed, died in a hail of 50 police bullets as he left his bachelor party just hours before he was to get married.
The six-month, $500,000 study is funded by the Washington, D.C.-based Police Foundation. “There is not a lot out there, especially on the question of ‘contagious’ shootings,’ ” said Bernard Rostker, a former undersecretary of the Defense Department who will lead Rand’s project. Several training scenarios re-create situations where officers may end up firing their weapons, including violent disputes, dealing with an emotionally disturbed person, and responding to a report of someone with a gun. Rand will look at whether the psychology behind the training scenarios is effective, said Jack Riley of the Rand Center on Quality Policing. New York police shot and killed 13 people last year, compared with nine in 2005.