On a force of 35,000 cops who answered 4.4 million calls, the only New York City police officer shot last year was killed by a fellow cop who mistook him for a criminal, says the Wall Street Journal. Since then, the police department has been trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Off-duty Officer Omar Edwards was killed on May 28, 2009, as he chased, with gun drawn, a man who broke into his car. The department then began piecing together a plan to avoid another “rare and terrible event–a mistaken-identity shooting.”
The department hired a University of Chicago professor to study the role of race–Edwards was black–in these shootings. It began requiring undercover officers to attend roll call, so that beat cops could better recognize them. It increased training on what actions cops dressed in plain clothes should take when confronted by a uniformed officer. Using records “from half century-old precinct log books to archived news reports to personnel orders,” the department found 10 mistaken-identity fatalities dating back to 1930. After the Edwards slaying, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the “most salient detail” of that study was that eight of the 10 officers killed were off-duty. The other two slain officers were on-duty but in plain clothes. In all 10 incidents the slain officers had their weapons out trying to make an arrest or stop a crime.