How Philadelphia Reforms Have Reduced Fatal Police Shootings 75%

Deadly police shootings in Philadelphia have fallen by 75 percent over the last year as the Police Department has implemented a number of steps to reduce the use of lethal force, reports So far in 2014, police officers have shot and killed three people. By the same date last year, they had killed 12. And in 2012 by this date, officers had killed 16. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said in an interview he hoped that the trend reflected the department’s shake-up in training and tactics, which range from adopting a “statement on the sanctity of human life” to emphasizing “reality-based” weapons training for officers.

Ramsey met with federal officials Monday to go over a draft of a new Department of Justice report examining the Police Department’s use of deadly force. In May 2013, the commissioner invited the federal experts to examine the department’s practices as part of a “collaborative review.” The request followed a report that documented a spike in the number of police-involved shootings despite a citywide drop in crime. As the new policies have been phased in, the total number of shootings to date – fatal and nonfatal – has plummeted from 48 in 2012 to 35 in 2013 and to 18 so far this year. “To the extent that is the result of better training and accountability, Ramsey deserves credit,” said Philadelphia civil rights attorney David Rudovsky. “On the other hand, it’s far too early to say that whatever measures that have been put in place will result in a permanent decrease in shootings.”

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