A report that analyzes involvement of Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) officers in shooting incidents from 2007 to 2014 suggests that they require more training to have them become less prone towards using their firearms and approach certain cases with more non-violent methods.
The report, published on Tuesday, was issued at the request of Philadelphia Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and was comprised by the US Department of Justice’s COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services), an office oriented towards the rapport between law enforcement agents and the communities they serve.
It presents that PPD officers have been involved in 390 shooting incidents throughout the city between 2007-2014, out of which 20 were off-duty and 4 accidental. When sorted by place of happening, almost a quarter of them happened in the 22nd and 25th districts of Philadelphia combined, which are unsurprisingly the districts with the most intense criminal activity.
Race statistics, at a first glance, feed the recent tumultuous landscape of accusations of racism in OIS (officer involved shootings), with 60 percent of the PPD forces involved in such incident being white, and 80 percent of the suspects black. About 55.8 percent of the suspects involved in shootings had firearms, while 15 percent were unarmed.
The COPS report sub-classified shootings against unarmed suspects occurred during the period by motivation, and shows that 29 out of 59 such incidents were “threat perception failures” – instances in which officers opened fire at suspects that were in fact harmless because of certain movements or misidentification of non-threatening objects.
The paper holds over 90 recommendations for the PPD, mostly revolved around a better training of its officers in use of non-lethal force and identifying threat perception. Having a more transparent review system for cases in which deadly force is used would also help at both identifying instances in which use of firearms is avoidable and promoting a culture of using them as a last resort.
“It’s a good report with a lot of solid recommendations, these changes don’t happen overnight, but we’re going to push as hard as we can and make substantial changes over the next few months” commented Commissioner Ramsey, who has the fourth most numerous police force in the country under his command.
This report follows a nation-wide stint of controversial officer-involved shootings in Ferguson, Cleveland and New Orleans. These have brought into the forefront of public debate the question of whether law enforcement is harsher for certain races, and also if policemen in general are taking too many liberties with regard to using their guns.
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