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Officer Involved Shootings: Understanding the Complexities

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  providea  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 first focuses on OIS incident characteristics. The second examines the officer(s) and subject(s) involved in the incidents. This executive summary provides a broader discussion of OIS incidents, how their data are captured within law enforcement, and the gaps in our understanding of these encounters.

Research Design


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Recommended Citation

Stephens, D.W. (2019). Officer involved shootings: Understanding the complexities. Washington, D.C.: National Policing Institute. https://www.policinginstitute.org/publication/officer-involved-shootings-overall-executive-summary/