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Evaluation of the New York City Police Department Firearm Training and Firearm-Discharge Review Process

Evaluation of the New York City Police Department Firearm Training and Firearm-Discharge Review Process

Bernard D. Rostker
Lawrence M. Hanser
William M. Hix
Carl Jensen
Andrew R. Morral
Greg Ridgeway
Terry L. Schell
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 142
  • Book Info
    Evaluation of the New York City Police Department Firearm Training and Firearm-Discharge Review Process
    Book Description:

    In January 2007, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly asked the RAND Corporation to examine the quality and completeness of the New York City Police Department's firearm-training program and identify potential improvements in it and in the police department's firearm-discharge review process. This monograph reports the observations, findings, and recommendations of that study.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4597-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
    Greg Ridgeway
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Executive Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The discharging of a firearm by a member of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is a significant event. Every time a police officer’s weapon is fired, except for circumstances in which it is fired, or discharged, at a firing range, the officer makes a report and the department undertakes an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident. In January 2007, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly wanted to make sure that his department was doing everything necessary to minimize the unnecessary discharge of firearms. He asked the RAND Corporation to examine the quality and completeness...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Firearm-Discharge Policy and Experience in New York City
    (pp. 7-16)

    The student guide given to new recruits when they enter the NYPD Police Academy clearly explains that, if officers are involved in a shooting, they will be judged not only on the propriety of the discharge but also on the tactics used prior to the shooting, including whether they unnecessarily placed themselves in a position that gave them no choice but to fire their weapons (NYPD Police Academy, 2007a, p. 20). The NYPD patrol-guide procedure on use of force reminds officers that

    [A]ll uniformed members of the service are responsible and accountable for the proper use of force under appropriate...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Training
    (pp. 17-40)

    While the original focus of the training portion of this study was to “conduct a systematic review of NYPD’s new recruit and in-service firearms training . . . to ensure that training materials address the appropriate range and complexity of discharge circumstances that any officer may encounter during a police career” (NYPD, 2007b), as the RAND team considered the full range of training that officers receive, the focus shifted from firearm training alone to a range of training that officers receive in the use of force—for example, how officers are trained to deal with uncooperative suspects and to control...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR The Firearm-Discharge Investigation and Review Process
    (pp. 41-46)

    Since 1972, the NYPD has managed a structured internal investigative and review process for firearm discharges.¹ An investigation is conducted any time an officer discharges any firearm or another person discharges an officer’s weapon, except under authorized training or while lawfully engaged in target practice or hunting (NYPD, 2005).²

    In this chapter, we examine the current procedures for reviewing firearm-discharge events and then assess the implementation of this process, ending with a series of recommendations for improvement.

    The patrol guide requires an officer to provide immediate notification to his or her supervisor of any firearm discharge other than one explicitly...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Analysis of Factors Associated with NYPD Officers Discharging Their Firearms
    (pp. 47-56)

    As noted in Chapter Four, a more integrated assessment of all firearm discharges might provide further insights into patterns and common characteristics that do not become clear until all cases are assessed together. For example, individual case reviews cannot reveal whether there are patterns in the shootings or common characteristics of the officers who are involved in shootings. If such patterns can be identified, they might suggest other changes that might be advisable. In this chapter, we describe one such integrated analysis that incorporated data from cases that the FDRB adjudicated during the period 2004–2006. We compared the characteristics...

  13. CHAPTER SIX The Need for an Improved Less-Than-Lethal Standoff Weapon
    (pp. 57-80)

    Analysis of the NYPD firearm-discharge cases and the experience of other police departments suggests that, if the NYPD employed a more robust less-than-lethal standoff weapon, it might not only prevent some incidents from escalating to deadly force but might also reduce injuries to officers and citizens alike, as has been the case in other departments.¹ To understand why a more robust less-than-lethal standoff weapon may be needed, it is important to understand where such a weapon fits into the use-of-force continuum and how, without it, police are hampered in their ability to control uncooperative suspects.

    In this chapter, we examine...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Other Innovative Technologies
    (pp. 81-86)

    Most NYPD officers will never fire their weapons at another human being. Indeed, many officers resist using deadly force even when it is authorized. Nevertheless, it is critical that every officer be able to do the following:

    Correctly decide when deadly force should be applied.

    Efficiently and effectively employ deadly force without harming innocent third parties.

    Correctly decide when to cease the application of deadly force.

    Firearm-training literature suggests that increased range time alone will not appreciably increase shooting accuracy in real-world situations.¹ As Morrison (2006, p. 332) noted, “bullet hit rates hovering around one in five shots have persisted...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT Reflexive Shooting
    (pp. 87-90)

    To the general public, the termscontagious shooting or mass reflexive responserefer to “gunfire that spreads among officers who believe that they, or their colleagues, are facing a threat” (Wilson, 2006). For the NYPD, contagious shootings are categorized as intentional reflexive discharges and, together with accidental reflexive discharges, they make up the broader category of reflexive firearm discharge. This chapter discusses reflexive shooting and what can be done to reduce it.

    Accidental reflexive discharges occur without an explicit decision to shoot. In 2005, the NYPD recorded 24 cases in which a firearm was accidentally discharged (Hurley, 2006, p. 16)....

  16. CHAPTER NINE Summary of Findings and Recommendations
    (pp. 91-100)

    Commissioner Kelly asked RAND to undertake a “objective, comprehensive assessment of the NYPD firearms training and firearms discharge review process” (NYPD, 2007b). This monograph recommends ways in which the NYPD can reduce firearm discharges generally and inappropriate discharges in particular. During the study, the RAND team observed recruit and in-service weapon and use-of-force training. It also observed the operations of department- and borough-level FDRBs and analyzed the complete files of all firearm-discharge cases completed between 2004 and the present.

    In this chapter, we summarize the findings and recommendations that the preceding chapters have presented for training; FDRB investigation and reporting;...

  17. APPENDIX Data and Methodology
    (pp. 101-104)
  18. References
    (pp. 105-114)
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