The issue of officer-involved shootings is in the forefront of the news in many cities these days, including Phoenix. Some say the statistics show that (a) our city has a relatively high per capita rate of shootings by police, and (b) to make matters worse, Latinos and blacks are shot in Phoenix at a rate that far exceeds their size in the population. There are those who disagree with these numbers, however.
The issue has gained more notoriety this month with the issuance of a report drafted jointly by the Phoenix PD and Arizona State University. That report found that officers lack the appropriate training and procedures to prevent officer-involved shootings, and to investigate the shootings once they have occurred.
Whatever your view is on the statistics, everyone seems to agree that there is a problem, and that the goal is to reduce the number of officer-involved shootings. The question that’s being debated is how to achieve that goal. The PPD and citizen’s groups appear to agree that additional training is necessary. But the ACLU, for example, says that body cams impact the behavior of police officers, and questions why the department hasn’t put together a plan to have all officers equipped with one. In that regard, the City received a grant last month from the federal government to double the number of body cams for Phoenix police officers.
What’s even more interesting about the debate is a statement by the Director of the FBI, who took the position at a recent speech at a Midwestern law school that videos (which presumably include those taken by body cams) are stifling police from doing their duty, and are a direct cause of increased violent crime rates in cities across the country. We should add that the Director admitted he really didn’t have any evidence to support his claim, and the White House has come out strongly opposing his position.
We’re not sure exactly where this debate with end up, although we are convinced that we must address the shockingly high number of police shootings in the country. We also have some doubt that training alone will get the job done.
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