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Officer Involved Shootings: Executive Summary of Incident Characteristics

Publication Date

September 2019


Darrel W. Stephens


Several high-profile officer-involved shootings (OIS) in 2014 and 2015 stimulated a national debate and exposed the absence of reliable national data on police use of deadly force. To begin exploring this issue, the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) first asked their members to provide the number of OIS for their agencies for the years 2005-2015. While helpful in understanding the trends and frequency of these incidents, this data alone provides no insight into the circumstances of the encounters between officers and members of the public. To help develop a better understanding of these interactions, MCCA and the National Policing Institute (NPI) entered into a partnership in 2015 to collect more detailed OIS data. The partnership had two primary objectives. The first was to provide a basis for a more accurate and reliable estimate of firearm use by police officers in major cities. The second was to provide better insight into OIS situations and, through the analysis of the data, improve officer safety and accountability. After developing a tool and a process, OIS data collection was launched in late March 2015. The NPI and the MCCA have developed three executive summaries on this project to share the information with practitioners on 1006 cases involving 1605 officers in 47 MCCA US agencies for the years 2015 to 2017. This executive summary focuses on OIS incident characteristics. The second examines the officer(s) and subject(s) involved in the incidents. The third is a broader discussion of OIS incidents, how their data are captured within law enforcement, and the gaps in our understanding of these encounters.

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Recommended Citation

Stephens, D.W. (2019). Officer involved shootings: Incident executive summary. Washington, D.C.: National Policing Institute. Retrieved https://www.policinginstitute.org/publication/officer-involved-shootings-incident-executive-summary/