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Highly anticipated report on Phoenix police shootings released

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Police Department on Friday released a much-anticipated independent report on last year’s unprecedented spike in shooting incidents involving officers.

The 66-page report by the nonprofit National Police Foundation presented findings culled from statistics as well as interviews with the community and officers.

The study didn’t find major issues with the department’s training and policies but offered nine recommendations for improvement, including increased transparency with the community and improved training.

“I have reviewed their suggestions, and I’m committed to the implementation of all nine recommendations,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said during a press conference.

The report’s Key Findings and Recommendations section said, “We found no evidence in our review that policy or training is flawed or misguided and in fact found that PPD executive staff have taken many reasonable steps to strengthen both policy and training.”

However, it noted a disconnect between police and the public.

“Our discussions with the community and review of PPD actions revealed a lack of transparency on the part of PPD and a lack of trust between PPD and the community that may be inhibiting transparency,” it said.

Among the findings, the study identified a significant increase in encounters with armed suspects.

Other recommendations including tracking how often officers point guns at suspects, improving consistency in data collection for periodic analysis of officer-involved shootings and increasing the presence of proactive policing units.

“We’ve dramatically changed the way we train our officers,” Mayor Kate Gallego said during the press conference, “moving from military style training to training that use reality-based scenarios focused on problem solving.”

In July 2018, the City Council approved funding for the study, which Williams had requested.

By the end of the year, Phoenix officers were involved in a record 44 shootings. From 2009 to 2017, the department averaged 21 officer-involved shootings.

The 23 fatalities from last year’s shootings were the most in the nation by a large margin, the report said, with the Los Angeles Police Department in second with 14.

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