24 officer-involved shootings reported in the Valley so far this year

Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 22:12:57-04

Records show there have been 24 officer-involved shootings throughout the Valley so far in 2018.  

Compare that to 39 in all of last year.

We took these numbers to Phoenix police, who agreed, the numbers are alarming for them and the community.

"No officer leaves the police station thinking I hope today's the day I shoot somebody. It is a horrible, stressful, life-changing event to go through," said Ken Crane, the President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Howard tells ABC15 Arizona, Police Chief Jeri Williams is currently in talks with Arizona State University to study this spike in the number of officer-involved shootings.

Twelve of the 24 have happened in the City of Phoenix this year.

"Why do people think it's okay to use guns against police officers, use weapons against police officers, that's a big question for us," Howard said.

"A lot of these shootings can be avoided if people didn't try to run from the police, if people didn't try to shoot us, didn't try to stab us, didn't try to beat our head in with a rock or a bat. We could eliminate probably 98% of police use of force overnight in America," Crane added.

But some community activists feel police needed to be held accountable for their actions.

Pastor Warren Stewart Jr. pointed out that there have been many police shootings in which the suspect was not armed with a deadly weapon.

"The media is full of police-involved shootings of unarmed people, people who are so afraid for their lives. This increases the adrenaline, the apprehension, and the anxiety in our community," Stewart said.

He feels that police should focus on more de-escalation training rather than the use of force.

"They have tasers, they have rubber bullets, and mace. They can use all these other methods for lethal weapons issues, so why not go through those methods first?" said Stewart.

Police said these are split-second decisions that officers have to make, usually within seconds.

"I've had the opportunity to look over some of our recent shootings and maybe 60 seconds to 120 seconds to two minutes tops of arrival, these officers are getting into shootings," Howard said.

Crane added that "de-escalation" techniques that were a buzz word in the community now is something they have been training for, for decades, but when officers are confronted with danger, often there's just no time.

"You know when the cuffs go on, and they take you to jail, you get to see this really cool dude that wears a black robe that we call the judge. He'll decide if police maybe over-reached, which might kick you loose out of jail," Crane said.

Police advise the best course of action anytime you're dealing with an officer or a deputy is to comply with their orders, whether you like it or not. It's the only way to ensure a safe ending to a call for help.