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Phoenix still determining why officer-involved shootings increased in 2018

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PHOENIX — The head of the Phoenix Police Department said it has been unable to determine a trend in the 33 officer-involved shootings that have occurred so far in 2018.

Police Chief Jeri Williams said in a post that there was “no trending location, intersection or neighborhood” in the incidents that took place between Jan. 1 and Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, these incidents have occurred throughout our city,” the post read.

“It has been a priority to determine why we have a stark increase from previous years.”

Williams has been publicly advocating for a study of police-involved shootings since June, when the number of incidents reached 27. The number of officer-involved shootings in Phoenix throughout 2017 was 21.

A department-led review found that 10 percent of the assaults on Phoenix officers between January and May involved firearms. That number was at 4.2 percent for the same time period last year.

There was also a 45 percent increase in overall assaults against officers, Williams said.

“We expect our officers to show respect to those we serve and we’ve trained them on de-escalation tactics. Unfortunately, many officers have found themselves in situations when their arrival on scene was met with gunfire,” she added.

“While I cannot account for the reasons why some members of our community take active aggression against officers, I can encourage and create opportunities for additional training.”

Those training opportunities included online courses and a simulation that officers who are out in the field on a regular basis can utilize.

Williams said the department was expected to complete its study on the spike in police-involved shootings in Phoenix by the end of the year and will use the findings “as a resource for continual evaluation for our agency and most importantly for agencies nationally.”

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