NewsIn Depth


Phoenix police ranks #1 in deadly use of force compared to other major departments

Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 12:55:14-04

PHOENIX — Of the police departments that cover the ten most populous cities in the country, the Phoenix Police Department ranks number 1 for use of deadly force.

The organization “Mapping Police Violence” has compiled a database of police deadly use of force going back to 2013. The database contains records of 9,942 deadly force incidents involving police during that time frame. Departments in Arizona account for 437, or 4% of the people that died during an encounter with the police. The data shows that 131 of these encounters happened with the Phoenix Police Department, the second-highest of any department tracked by the organization.

When adjusting for the population of the 10 largest cities Phoenix has a deadly incident rate of 75 people killed per one million. This is nearly double San Antonio, the city ranked at number two that has a rate of 42 deaths per 1 million people. Phoenix’s rate is more than double the remaining eight cities on the list.

Arizona fares a little better compared to other states, ranking fourth in deadly encounters with a rate of 60 per one million for the past eight years. The list is led by neighboring New Mexico with a rate of 90 per 1 million followed by Alaska and Oklahoma.

The data from Mapping Police Violence also looks at deadly encounters by race. It shows that between 2013 and 2022 Black people were almost three times as likely to be killed by a police officer than white people. The rate for deadly encounters for Black people was 130 per one million, almost double that of Hispanics which had a rate of 68.

Federal Government Use of Force Data Is Not Yet Complete

On their mission statement, Mapping Police Violence says that they curate the data on deadly encounters with law enforcement because “law enforcement agencies across the country are failing to provide us with even basic information about the lives they take.” There is an effort underway to collect and report use of force data from state and local departments helmed by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Department but so far only about 40% of the nation’s law enforcement agencies provide the data. The participation in the program is voluntary. About 17% of Arizona agencies report their data to the FBI though many of the departments that participate cover large metropolitan areas since the bureau’s data says that participating agencies cover 47% of law enforcement officers.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office does regularly update data for officer-involved shootings (OIS) on their website, which also includes encounters that did not result in death. According to that data, there have been 284 OIS incidents since 2017.