St. Louis Police Fire Guns At High Rate; Little Outside Oversight


St. Louis officers fire their guns at a higher rate than those in many other metropolitan forces, says a St. Louis Post-Dispatch analysis. Unlike many other departments, St. Louis has no third party checking the process. An initiative to bring prosecutors on board was decided as the Post-Dispatch made inquiries for its story but has not yet been formalized. All investigative records pertaining to the officers’ actions are sealed.

A report the department commissioned in 2009 found serious fault in how deadly force was used and investigated. Of 117 police uses of deadly force in the last five years, 113 were cleared. “There’s a cloak of secrecy with these things,” said Gonzalo Fernandez, the attorney for one man who was shot. “The repercussion is it allows an environment of abuse to continue.” In the five years ending in 2010, St. Louis officers fired up to three times more often, per reported violent crime, than those protecting other, similar-sized populations. There is no national database of shots fired by police, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal compiled data from 16 departments in the most populated cities. St. Louis, not on the list, easily topped all of them in shots fired per violent crime.

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