Phoenix police have begun an unprecedented review of officer-involved shootings to better understand some of the factors that lead to violent confrontations and to be more transparent with the public, reports the Arizona Republic. The effort could also help police avoid any potential scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice, which has recently come down on other police departments in the West regarding their use of force. “(It) is critically important for us because it can save our officers’ lives and citizens’ lives,” said Police Chief Daniel Garcia.
The department says officers fired their guns in the line of duty seven times in March, the most in one month since April 2013. In 2013, Phoenix police were involved in 31 officer-involved shootings, the most in one year since the 29 recorded in 2002. “We spend our time investigating the crimes and looking at the shootings, but we don’t gather what we think are really enough statistics to be able to say … ‘Why are we having these?’ ” said Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix police spokesman. Officials will collate data such as addresses of incidents, drug and toxicology results, if officers employed non-lethal compliance measures and if initial reports of an armed suspect were accurate. Those data already are collected in every use-of-force investigation, but never before for the purposes of study.