Los Angeles: Every day the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department willingly place themselves in situations that are potentially life threatening. Law enforcement is a profession that is inherently dangerous, but the rise of attacks on police officers and officer deaths nationwide should serve as a reminder that violence against LAPD officers and the communities they protect and serve should never be tolerated.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc, after a two-year decline in law enforcement fatalities, 2010 showed a marked increase in the United States for police deaths. In cases where officers were assaulted, 76 were killed. So far this year, there have been 33 deaths by assault in the line of duty, compared to 26 year to date in 2010, a 23-percent increase.
In Los Angeles, the April 4, 2011 shooting of LAPD K-9 Officer Steve Jenkins and the Easter Sunday shooting attack on two LAPD officers who were in an airship, are clear indicators that despite several years of hard work reducing crime and making the city safer, LAPD officers are increasingly facing life and death situations where use of force is necessary. State law authorizes police to use deadly force against a person who has caused or is likely to cause "serious physical harm" to the officer or other people.
So far in 2011, there have been 20 officer involved shootings (OIS). Three of them occurred yesterday, April 27, 2011. An initial review indicates that in all three incidents officers were confronted by individuals armed with guns who threatened the lives of either the officers involved or other members of the community. This information is of course preliminary, and as in all officer involved shootings, Force Investigation Division will conduct a thorough investigation of the most recent OIS’s, which will go through many levels of review. Additionally, each officer involved shooting is reviewed by the Office of the Inspector general, the Police Commission and the District Attorney’s office.
The following is a comparison of the number of officer involved shootings to date from 2007-2011:
- 24 incidents resulting in an officer involved shooting; 10 involve fatalities
- 17 incidents resulted in officer-involved shootings; 13 involve fatalities
- 13 incidents resulted in officer-involved shootings; 5 involve fatalities
- 10 incidents resulted in officer involved shootings; 3 involve fatalities
- 20 incidents resulted in officer involved shootings; 10 involve fatalities
Keeping the people of Los Angeles safe is our highest priority. Major crime rates may be at decade-low levels, but the threat of deadly violence is always present. LAPD continuously looks at ways to improve our policies and training. In 2009, we made changes to our Use of Force Policy that makes it more concise, more easily understood and consistent with prevailing law and law enforcement best practices.
Los Angeles Police Department officers are never trained to “shoot to kill,” only to stop a deadly threat in order to keep the community and themselves safe. This isn't a rhetorical turn-of-phrase or semantic contrivance, but a real world reality: taking a life -- anyone's life -- is never our intent. It's a tragedy when it occurs for everyone involved and for the City of Los Angeles.