An emphasis on defensive tactics and weapons training is contributing to a dramatic reduction in police officer fatalities after one of the deadliest years in two decades, USA Today reports. Fatal police shootings have been cut in half, to 11, compared with this time last year. Police deaths overall have declined 39 percent, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Last year, fatal shootings were up 26 percent, and 68 officers were shot and killed.
Fund Chairman Craig Floyd believes the early pattern could hold through the rest of the year. He said police departments and unions focused so much on last year’s surge that officers take more care in how they respond even to routine calls. Ed Nowicki of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association said many of the group’s 4,000 members urge such defensive tactics as more handcuffing, even at traffic stops; more analysis of video from patrol car dashboard cameras to critique officers’ behavior with suspects who may pose risks; and renewed emphasis on the use of body armor.