PHOENIX (FOX 10) - The Phoenix Police Department held a news conference Friday to discuss the release of a study on officer-involved shootings in 2018.
Last year, there were 44 officer-involved shootings in Phoenix, which is more than double the total of 21 shootings in 2017.
The study was conducted by the National Police Foundation.
“As chief, I am committed to taking each of the National Police Foundation’s recommendations seriously and working through the process to implement them," Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said in a statement.
Chief Williams was joined at the news conference by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski and the National Police Foundation's President Jim Burch.
The study resulted in several interesting findings related to the spike of police shootings in Phoenix in 2018. In 2018, there were 87 incidents where officers were attacked by armed suspects, compared to 42 in 2017. Lack of public trust and transparency by the Phoenix Police Department were cited as factors.
"The number of OIS events that involved a single officer responding to that scene increased in 2018, so this was consistent with feedback from officers. They're concerned on staffing shortages," said Jim Burch with the National Police Foundation.
Staffing continues to be an issue, as 300 more officers still need to be hired by Phoenix Police to meet its own goal of having 3,1256 sworn officers on the force. At the same time, retention is also a concern.
"Individuals who could stay 25 years are choosing to leave at the 20-year mark, and we need to find out why because were losing experience and knowledge we have," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.
The study recommended several changes, including more frequent scenario training using reality-based incidents, and having officers document each time they point their gun at a person. That's one change the chief plans to implement in the short term. She said those statistics would also show how many times officers chose not to use deadly force.
"The officers are writing that information into a department narrative. I'm just not checking a box. There's not a system in place," said Chief Williams.
Another change is the way the police department responds to calls involving mentally ill subjects. Phoenix's mayor has already started working a plan to divert those types of calls to mental and behavioral health professionals.
Officer Involved Shooting study