Study: Philly 2nd Worst Big City for Fatal Police Shootings From 2010-2014

The good news? Far fewer fatal shootings in 2014 and 2015.

There were more fatal police shootings per capita in Philadelphia than in any big city but Phoenix between 2010 and 2014, a new study by the Better Government Association has found.

Philadelphia registered 3.48 lethal incidents per 100,000 residents over that period. Of the 10 most populous cities in the nation, only Phoenix tallied more, with 3.77. Rounding out the top five was Dallas (2.70), Chicago (2.57) and Houston (2.23).

The report found there were 54 fatal police shootings in Philadelphia during the five-year time period in which the case was studied. Only the Phoenix (57) and Chicago (70) police departments fatally shot more people during the same time span. Remarkably, New York’s Police Department — which serves a population 5.4 times the size of Philly’s — recorded fewer overall fatal shootings (41) than the PPD.

As alarming as those numbers are, there’s some important context to remember: police shootings in Philadelphia dropped a whopping 62 percent between 2012 and 2014, and they’ve fallen further still in 2015.  That might sounds like it contradicts the study’s results, but it actually just serves to highlight how common police shootings were in the city during the earlier years of the study.

“I think we all can agree that any police discharge that leads to a fatality is never a pleasant experience nor is an incident which leads to the death of an officer, as we have experienced far too often, most recently in March,” John Stanford, commanding officer of public affairs for the police department, wrote in a statement.  “With that being said, our department is committed to taking the necessary steps to reduce officer involved shooting whenever possible. we are in the process of implementing recommendations and changes to provide our officers with additional training and tools to better serve all communities in Philadelphia.”

In 2013, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey asked the U.S. Department of Justice to examine the Philadelphia Police Department’s policies, training and procedures around the use of lethal force. In March, the DOJ came back with a long list of recommendations, and found fault with the department’s practices in a number of areas.  The DOJ is working with the department to make those reforms.

“Any fatality is one too many; however, we have seen a decline in officer involved shooting in our city over the past few years and a reduction in fatalities with four in 2014 and two thus far this year,” Stanford wrote.