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by Peter Moskos

November 19, 2013

NYPD Aims Better in 2012

It's being reported that fatal NYPD police-involved shootings were way up in 2012. They are, but it's a non-story. Indeed, fatal police-involved shootings increased from 9 to 16, but better aim and luck were probably the reasons why. Police-involved shootings were only up by 2, to 30. (And this even though the average distance from which officers shot was further away in 2012.)

The real story (though you should always be leery basing a story on what might be a statistical one-year fluke) is that the number of NYPD officers shot went up from 4 in 2011 to 13 in 2012. Luckily none of those 13 was killed. 13 officers shot is the most since 1998. In 1997 27 officer were shot, 4 fatally.

30 police-involved shootings is an incredible low number for a city as big as New York. It is also part of a long-tern downward trend (that correlates, not surprisingly, with the crime rate). In 1990 there 111 police-involved shootings. Going back even further, in 1972 there were 211 people shot by cops!

To put this in comparison, Baltimore, with a fraction of New York's population and about 3,000 officers, had 22 police-involved shootings in 2009 (the last year I have numbers for).

Here's the NYPD report.

Houston police, with 5,300 officers has shot an average of 24 people a year (10 of them fatally) for the past five years. Many were unarmed.

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