Last Friday, New York City police officers inadvertently shot nine civilians as they killed a man who had just murdered his former boss on a busy street. How accurate was the shooting? CBS News says the officers filed a total of 16 rounds, hitting Jeffrey Johnson 10 times. The “hit ratio” was almost twice as good as the department’s average. Earlier analyses by the New York Times and the RAND Center on Quality Policing found that the average hit ratio was 30 to 34 percent.
The Times said that in 2006-2007, Los Angeles police officers hit their targets between 27 and 29 percent of the time. Thomas Aventi, who has written extensively about police shootings and directs the Police Policy Studies Council, said in a 2003 report that shootings involving a single officer have about a 50 percent hit ratio, and that low light diminishes police accuracy by up to 30 percent. Aventi, a long-time police trainer, says that improving police hit ratio has been a decades-long struggle.