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Phoenix ends year of record-breaking officer-involved shootings

Glock 19 handgun (Flickr/Mitchell Askelson)

PHOENIX — Police in Phoenix were a part of a record-breaking number of officer-involved shootings in 2018.

By the time the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, there were 44 shootings that involved Phoenix police throughout the year. That number was just 21 for 2017.

The previous record high was in 2013, when officer-involved shootings in the city reached 33.

The 44th shooting took place on Dec. 28, when officers shot and killed a suspect after he allegedly attempted to burglarize an apartment in the area.

The latest officer-involved shooting in Phoenix occurred on Monday following a pursuit that was sparked by a bank robbery in Goodyear, but Sgt. Armando Carbajal said Phoenix police were not involved.

In an effort to prevent these incidents from again reaching unprecedented numbers in 2019, Police Chief Jeri Williams has said the department is continually updating its training protocols and, in May, commissioned an outside study that is expected to be completed in February.

“We’ve made some adjustments in our training to include some of the very scenarios that our officers are facing, that they’ve been in,” Williams told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Dec. 12.

“We’ve increased our crisis intervention team training. We’ve been working with our community to increase active shooter training.”

The shootings have garnered national attention, most recently in an article from the New York Times. In it, the Times claimed the department is blaming citizens for the shootings, which the department has adamantly denied.

The high number of shootings has also sparked Poder in Action, a Phoenix-based activist group, to unfurl banners that read “STOP PHX POLICE VIOLENCE” over city highways and issue a travel advisory for “black and brown” people.

Visitors “should exercise increased caution in the city of Phoenix due to the record number of police shootings,” the group said in a press release last month.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the union that represents officers in the city, called the advisory a “publicity stunt heavy on emotion and inflammatory rhetoric designed to create racial divisiveness and the illusion that Phoenix police officers are intentionally targeting minorities with deadly force.”

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