Risk Factors Associated with Police Shootings: A Matched Case-Control Study

WP 2015-10.0

Greg Ridgeway

Particularly with the resurgence of concern over police use of deadly force, there is a pressing need to understand the risk factors that lead to police shootings. This study uses a matched-case control design to remove cofounders of shooting incidents and identify features of officers that increased their risk of shooting. By matching shooting officers to non-shooting officers at the same scene, the analysis isolates the role of the officers' features from the features of the incident's environment. The study uses data from the New York City Police Department on 291 officers involved in 106 officer-involved shootings adjudicated between 2004 and 2006. Black officers were 3.3 times and officers rapidly accumulating negative marks in their files were 3.3 times more likely to shoot than other officers. Older officers who became police officers later in life were less likely to shoot. The results indicate that officer features related to discharging a firearm are identifiable.

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