2010 Marks Fewest Fatal Police-Involved Shootings Since 1971 and Lowest Number of Total Shooting Incidents by Police Since Formal Reporting Began 40 Years Ago

According to the New York City Police Department, police shot and killed eight subjects last year compared to 93 in 1971, the year to which reliable data on firearms discharges may be tracked. An additional 16 were wounded last year – another record low. The number wounded in 1971 was 221.

The record lows were recorded despite significant increases in the both the department’s headcount and capacity of its firearms compared to the 1970s. There were approximately 4,000 fewer officers (31,000 total) on the force in 1971 compared to 35,000 last year. Prior to 1993, New York City police officers were armed with six-shot revolvers compared to today’s 16-shot semiautomatic pistols. The preliminary 2010 figures show that officers logged a record low number of civilians shot and injured, 16; suspects and civilians shot and killed, 8; and total shooting incidents, 93, for the second straight year. That’s down from 2009, when the department counted 21 civilians shot and injured by police fire, 12 fatally shot, and 105 total gun-firing incidents.

In November, the Police Department reported that in 2009 it recorded the lowest number of shooting incidents by police since formal reporting began 40 years ago. That record was broken again in 2010 with a record low of 34 adversarial conflicts with assailants, and 93 firearms discharge incidents for any reason, including accidental discharges and shooting of animals. There were 994 such incidents in 1972 – the highest year. Last year was the first time firearms discharge incidents of all kinds fell below 100.

The New York City Police Department has the lowest ratio of fatal, police-involved shootings of any major police department in the nation, or 0.34 per 1,000 officers in 2010. Other large cities had fatal shooting ratios in recent years that were at least two and three times greater than New York’s.

An interesting study by The New York Post culled from a decade’s worth of NYPD annual firearm-discharge reports revealed that over the past 10 years, city cops fired 4,702 bullets, accidentally pulled the trigger 323 times, and missed 78 percent of their intended targets. The 75th Precinct of East New York, Brooklyn, led the number of shootings with a total of 11 shootings in 2008 and 2009. The area led or nearly led the city in 2010 in the four most violent crime categories: murders, 33; rapes, 61; robberies, 763; and felony assaults, 748. The 67th Precinct in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and the 44th Precinct in Morris Heights, Bronxhad the second most shootings witheach logging seven cop-involved shootings over the past two years.

There were 713 reported incidents in which cops shot at civilians, during which the officer was the only one firing 77 percent of the time. Officers accidentally fired shots an average of 29 times a year since 1998, the stats show. The reports note that many of those shots occur when officers are struggling to apprehend a suspect.

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