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ADMINISTRATIVE INTERVENTIONS ON POLICE SHOOTING DISCRETION - AN EMPIRICAL EXAMINATION

NCJ Number
67147
Journal
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Dated: (WINTER 1979) Pages: 309-323
Author(s)
J J FYFE
Date Published
1979
Annotation
USING A DATA BASE THAT INCLUDES ALL REPORTED NEW YORK CITY FIREARMS DISCHARGES AND SERIOUS ASSAULTS BY AND ON POLICE, THIS ARTICLE EXAMINES THE EFFECT OF POLICE USE OF DEADLY FORCE GUIDELINES ON POLICE SHOOTINGS.
Abstract
THE DATA REPRESENT THE YEARS 1971 TO 1975. IN 1972, THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT ISSUED TEMPORARY OPERATING PROCEDURE 237 (T.O.P. 237. THE MORE RESTRICTIVE ADMINISTRATIVE SHOOTING GUIDELINES WERE PROMULGATED ALONG WITH STRICTER SHOOTING INCIDENT REVIEW PROCEDURES. FORMER STATUTORY 'DEFENSE OF LIFE' AND 'FLEEING FELON' JUSTIFICATIONS FOR OFFICER SHOOTING AT FELONS WERE AUGMENTED WITH FURTHER STIPULATIONS REQUIRING THE MINIMUM FORCE NECESSARY TO BE USED IN ALL POLICE-SUSPECT ENCOUNTERS. WARNING SHOTS OR FIREARMS DISCHARGES WERE PROHIBITED IF INNOCENT BYSTANDERS COULD BE HARMED. DATA WERE ALSO ANALYZED FOR GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTIONS OF SHOOTING INCIDENTS, ARRESTS FOR FELONIES AGAINST PERSONS, AND REPORTED MURDER AND NON-NEGLIGENT MANSLAUGHTER. ANALYSIS SHOWS THAT, AMONG OTHER ITEMS, THE GUIDELINES DO APPEAR TO RESULT IN FEWER DEATHS AND INJURIES TO BOTH POLICE AND SUSPECTS. BEFORE THE NEW RULES, 3.9 SUSPECTS WERE INJURED AND 1.6 WERE KILLED PER WEEK BY THE POLICE; AFTERWARDS, FIGURES FELL TO 2.3 AND 1, RESPECTIVELY. DEATHS AND INJURIES TO ON-DUTY POLICE ALSO DECLINED, INJURIES FROM 4.4 TO 2.5 PER WEEK, AND DEATHS FROM 1 EVERY 5 WEEKS TO ONE PER 10 WEEKS. FURTHER, THE REDUCTION IN SHOOTINGS WAS MOST PREVALENT AMONG THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL SHOOTING INCIDENTS: SHOOTINGS TO PREVENT OR TERMINATE CRIMES. HOWEVER, THE STUDY IS LIMITED IN THAT OTHER VARIABLES THAT MIGHT AFFECT THE NUMBER OF SHOOTINGS AND SHOOTING CASUALITIES ARE NOT CONSIDERED, AND DATA CAN BE INCOMPLETE DUE TO DEFECTIVE REPORTING. NOTES, TABLES, AND REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED.