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Phoenix police chief says shooting study would benefit officers, citizens

(Facebook Photo/Jeri Williams)

PHOENIX – Chief Jeri Williams said a study on the spike in police-involved shootings in Phoenix would help protect officers and the community.

There have been 27 officer-involved shootings in Phoenix this year, already surpassing the total of 21 from 2017.

“As police chief, it’s my job to reach out to entities who understand data sets, who understand community interactions, who understand officer interactions to come up with the magic question: Why?” Williams told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona Morning News on Wednesday morning.

The proposed study, with a $150,000 price tag, would be conducted by the National Police Foundation in conjunction with Arizona State University.

The matter was not on the agenda of Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Williams said many of the shootings have involved suspects with weapons, some who have shot at officers.

“So, I understand why my officers are shooting, because they’re being reactionary to the threats that are being posed to them in the community,” she said.

She said there are a number of factors involved, and deeper research will provide better understanding of what’s causing the increase in violent encounters.

“What’s being lost in this discussion also is the fact that in a number of our shootings the suspect has harmed other individuals prior to our arrival,” she said. “Another factor is mental health. Another factor is substance abuse. Another factor are people who were previously incarcerated.”

With mental health becoming a greater factor, Williams said the department also has reached out to specialists in the field for assistance.

“I’m just hopeful that the study will provide the data and the research and the information to begin to move us forward to better understand how we can better protect the officers and better protect our community,” she said.

When the study was proposed last week, Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said he opposed it.

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