Funded by the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research, NORC at the University of Chicago and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) will conduct a national organizational survey of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to estimate the agency aggregated numbers of the past 10 years of police officer-involved shootings – including both officers shooting at civilians and officers being shot or shot at – and demographic, situational, agency, and community factors associated with these shootings.
We proposed three research questions:
- How many civilians did police officers shoot with a firearm and how many police officers were shot at in the past ten years, total and by citizen and officer demographics and situational factors?
- To what extent are agency characteristics, culture, practices and training related to the number/rate of officer-involved shootings?
- Are community factors, such as local gun laws and restrictions and gun violence rates related to agency culture, policing practices and required training and to the number/rate of officer-involved shootings?
RQ2 and RQ3 will be examined in terms of both overall officer-involved shootings and broken down by officer and citizen demographics and situational factors, separately for (a) officers shooting civilians and (b) officers being shot at.
Using a stratified sample design, we will randomly draw a nationally representative sample of 1,500 LEAs, and invite them to participate in an online survey. With an estimated 70% response rate, we expect at least 1,000 LEAs will complete the survey. The sample will be weighted to be representative of all state/local LEAs in the U.S., adjusting for non-response. We will also select 30 agencies to conduct in-depth interviews with command staff to provide additional context for our survey data. Latent class analysis and structure equation models will be conducted to describe the patterns of officer-involved shootings and the effect of various factors on the number/rate of officer-involved shootings.
This study addresses two important gaps: First, despite the deeply-rooted concerns regarding officer use of deadly force and officers' safety, there is a lack of data-driven guidance on mechanisms to reduce officer-involved shootings. Media, federal and survey data undercount officer-involved shootings and contain a limited number of community, agency and situational correlates. Second, despite research demonstrating the correlation between adverse community characteristics and officer-involved shootings, we have limited national data on this issue. Study results will inform practical recommendations on policies and protocols to ameliorate the number of officer-involved shootings.