Some members of the civilian body that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department expressed alarm Tuesday at a report that found the use of deadly force by officers was up last year despite the fact that other large departments around the country saw a decrease.
There were 44 police shootings in 2017, compared to 40 in the previous year, according to an annual report prepared by the LAPD. The report found that of the 44 shootings, 31 suspects were hit and 17 died.
“On surprising fact, frankly, was that other similarly sized agencies — New York, Chicago, Houston, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Philadelphia — all saw significant decreases in the number of officer-involved shootings between 2016 and 2017, while we had a 10 percent increase,” Commissioner Vice President Matt Johnson said. “So once again I’d like to take a look to see what these other departments are doing to see if there is anything we can learn from them.”
Johnson also expressed concern that 34 percent of the shootings involved suspects who did not have a firearm, despite changes the department has implemented the last several years that require officers to attempt to deescalate encounters.
Johnson also pointed out that seven of the shootings resulted from a pre-planned operation by the department, while the previous two years only saw three apiece.
“Given that, by definition these incidents afforded the officers greater opportunity to plan and coordinate, I’d also like to do a review of those facts and circumstances,” Johnson said.
The committee moved to form a subcommittee to analyze the report and come back to the full commission with some findings.
Johnson and Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill also expressed concern at an increase in the number of shootings where officers used rifles and where more than one officer fired shots.
“I’m extremely interested in looking at — very carefully, not just from a policy perspective, but also as applied — how we are approaching situations where force may be warranted but still approaching those situations in a manner that is likely to result in the least amount of force that is necessary to achieve the objective,” McClain-Hill said.