Wednesday, August 31, 2016

From the Texas Tribune: Unholstered - When Texas Police Pull the Trigger

Among the criminal justice reforms that might be considered in the 85th session of the legislature is shooting by police. The trouble is that very little data exists about these incidents. It's tough to solve a problem little is known about.

- Click here for the report.

From the intro:

Police officers in Texas unholstered their guns and fired at suspects in at least 656 incidents between 2010 and 2015.
At least.
That total is undoubtedly incomplete. It includes only 36 of the state's largest cities from which The Texas Tribune was able to obtain information, often by prying it out of reluctant departments through public records requests. The level of detail provided for individual incidents varied by city, and some said they don't track data on shootings in which no one is hurt.
If information is key to understanding when and why Texas police officers shoot at people, the public, police officials and state lawmakers are working with woefully incomplete facts and figures, and are left to guess at the realities of police use of lethal force. Because there is no consistent, statewide effort to collect such data, discussions and policy debates are largely driven by the most recent, most controversial shootings.Shelby TauberA police officer patrols downtown Austin.
Anyone interested in knowing, for instance, whether Texas police disproportionately shoot at minorities, or are good at de-escalating situations without resorting to lethal force, are flying blind.
“When we don’t have a really solid knowledge base or data to pull from, people will tend to fall back on anecdotal cases they hear reported in the media,” said Kevin Buckler, a criminal justice professor at the University of Houston.
The Texas Tribune spent almost a year attempting to collect information on police shootings from departments in the state’s 36 largest cities, which have a population of 100,000 or more, and was able to confirm 656 fatal and nonfatal shooting incidents involving 738 individuals that occurred between 2010 and 2015. Those 36 cities make up almost half of the state’s population.

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