As everybody knows, I’m some kind of crazed extreme anti-murderist whose model for policing is Mayor Bloomberg’s NYPD. Heck, I’m such a fringe figure that I even liked Mayor de Blasio’s NYPD when he had Bill Bratton running it.
In my view, the decline in murders in NYC from 2,245 in 1990 to 289 in 2018 is the single most impressive feat of governance in the last third of a century. Sadly, murders in NYC have increased by 60 percent since then, with most of the murder surge during the George Floyd–inspired media-declared Racial Reckoning. And woundings have grown even more as NYC has seen the return of mass shootings by guys feeling dissed at black social events.
One good thing about the NYPD is that generates a lot of statistics, including on police shootings. Lots of guys are interested in how to improve baseball moneyball, while a few guys are interested in criminal justice murderball.
But what kind of sicko likes data more than mindless emotions?
iSteve commenter James B. Shearer follows up on my speculation in “Are Cops Getting More Competent” that, relative to the level of medical care, the police are more likely to kill than wound when they open fire these days compared to a half century ago due to better guns, bullets, and training.
The NYPD has been required to produce annual use of force reports since 1971. That is a lot of data but requires some work to compare different years. Some summary figures for 1971-2019 can be found here.
Grouping into decades the NYPD shot and killed 447 people in the first decade (1971-1980), 257 in the second, 222 in the third and 114 in the fourth (2001-2010). Shot and injured were 1077, 589, 503 and 212 for the same decades.
In the nine years 2011–2019, the NYPD killed 74 and wounded 133.
So the police in NYC aren’t killing (or shooting) nearly as many people as they used to.
The ratio of wounded to killed has gone down some. From 2.41 (70s), 2.29 (80s), 2.27 (90s) to 1.86 (00s).
So the NYPD kills 29.3% of the people they shot in the 1970s, 30.4% in the 1980s, 30.6% in the 1990s, then 35.0% in the 2000s, and 35.7% in the first nine years of the 2010s.
Without the major improvements in emergency medical since the 1970s, the trend would likely have been considerably steeper.
Here’s some interesting data from the NYPD’s 2019 report on its firearm discharges, which is an absolute trove of interesting data.
The New York City Police Department has experienced a steady decline in the number of firearms discharge incidents since official record keeping began in 1971. From a high of 994 incidents in 1972, to a historic low of 35 in 2018, it is evident that the NYPD is moving in the right direction. For 2019, the NYPD recorded 52 discharge incidents which, despite being the second lowest number of police firearms discharges in NYPD history, was a 48.6% increase in the total number of police firearms discharge incidents compared to 2018.
2018 appears to have been the halcyon year for the NYPD achieving such a monopoly on violence in the city — the fewest murders since Joe DiMaggio played for the Yankees—that few criminals dared try to shoot it out with the cops. I was in Brooklyn in June 2018 wandering around racially mixed Flatbush in the middle of the night. It seemed pretty safe.
Looking back, that might have been Peak New York.
It seems as if in New York that the cataclysmic Racial Reckoning of 2020 was faintly brewing in 2019 if you could read the tea leaves right, which almost nobody would.
Before 2010, the department never had fewer than 100 firearms discharge incidents in a given year. The 52 discharges of 2019 equals 2017 for the second lowest number of police firearms discharges in NYPD records. This low number of police firearms discharges underscores the diligence and restraint displayed by members of the service in their interactions with the public, as well as changes and improvements in firearms policy and training.
In 2019, the NYPD had 36,397 uniformed members of the service (this number includes members in plainclothes and undercover assignments). Of them, 54, or about 0.15% intentionally discharged their firearms in an adversarial conflict. In 2019, members responded to more than 6.4 million calls for police service, of which 64,302 involved weapons. Of the thousands of arrests for weapons that resulted from these encounters, 3,299 were gun arrests, which represents an 11.8% increase in gun arrests from 2018. Apart from arresting armed suspects, uniformed members of the service also had thousands of additional, potentially volatile interactions with the public, including investigative encounters, car stops, responding to and escorting thousands of emotionally disturbed persons to hospitals and care facilities. In the overwhelming majority of incidents in which uniformed members took armed subjects or emotionally disturbed persons into custody, they did not fire their weapons.
In 2019, there were 25 intentional firearm discharge-adversarial conflict incidents (ID-AC), involving 54 uniformed members of the service who discharged their firearms. These conflicts involved 32 subjects. In five different ID-AC incidents, subjects discharged firearms directly at members of the service. Of all 2019 ID-AC incidents, 24 subjects were shot, of which eleven died. The total number of uniformed members injured by gunfire in IDAC exchanges has varied greatly over the 48 years the department has been tracking this data – from a high of 50 members shot and injured by subject gunfire in 1973,
50 NYPD cops got shot in 1973. That’s like some Batman movie. Those were crazy times.
Cops have gotten a lot better over the years at not getting themselves shot. I think that contributes to complaints about police shootings. Sure, back in the Death Wish days, the NYPD was blasting away like the last scene in Scarface, but up to 50 of them were getting shot themselves each year, presumably with few wearing body armor. So it seemed like more of a fair fight.
Now, in contrast, the NYPD tactically trains its officers how not to get shot, which is smart, but strikes many people as unsporting.
to a low of zero members shot and injured in 2009. In 2019, four police officers were shot and injured by subject gunfire in ID-AC incidents, compared with one member shot and injured in 2018. Tragically, two members of the service were shot and killed in the line of duty in 2019 during two other ID-AC incidents; both by “friendly fire.”
By the end of the Bloomberg era, the NYPD was likely about as good as any police department has ever been in the U.S. Still, bad stuff happens, like two NYPD officers being killed by friendly fire in 2019.
… Unfortunately, bystanders may be injured during ID-AC incidents – either as a direct result of, or incidental to, police action. In 2019, one bystander was injured during an ID-AC incident, struck in the foot by a bullet discharged by a police firearm. This occurred while the bystander was engaged in a physical altercation with an armed subject who was discharging a firearm at him. The injury was nonfatal. There were no other bystander injuries in 2019.
Somewhere there is data on the number of NYC bystanders shot by the NYPD over the last 50 years. It would be interesting to see what the trend lines would look like.
There were a total of 32 subjects involved in ID-AC incidents in 2019; 27 were male and 5 were female. The subjects’ ages ranged from 17 to 58, with a median age of 27.5. Of all the ID-AC subjects, 78.1% were between the ages of 21 and 39. Nineteen of the subjects were younger than 30, and only one was over 50 years old. The race and ethnicity of the subjects was determined by eyewitness reports, the subjects’ self-identification, existing government-issued documentation, racial/ethnic physical characteristics, medical examiner reports, and other sources. Of the 32 subjects involved in ID-AC incidents, 19 were black, 10 were Hispanic, 1 was white and 2 were Asian. Expressed as percentages, of the total number of ID-AC subjects in 2019, 59.4% were black, 31.3% were Hispanic, 3.1% were white, and 6.3% were Asian. The racial and ethnic composition of the ID-AC subjects generally corresponds to the 470 criminal shooting suspects in the 776 criminal shooting incidents in New York City in 2019. Among the 470 identified criminal shooting suspects in New York City in 2019, approximately 74.9% were black, 21.5% Hispanic, 2.3% white, and 1.3% Asian.
To the tune of “White Riot” by The Clash:
Black man gotta lot a problems
But his worst one’s pulling a gun
More from the NYPD:
Objective Completion Rate
The department does not calculate “hit percentage” when describing ID-AC incidents. The NYPD uses an “objective completion rate” per incident to determine the effectiveness of police firearms discharges. When a uniformed member properly and lawfully perceives a threat severe enough to require the use of a firearm and fires properly and lawfully at a specific threat, the most relevant measure of success is whether the member ultimately stops the threat. This is the objective completion rate. Regardless of the number of shots that strike a particular subject, the objective is considered completed when the actions of the subject that threaten imminent serious physical injury or death are stopped by a member’s use of deadly physical force, i.e., a subject stops their threatening actions after being shot.
In 2019, uniformed members of the service successfully stopped the threat by discharging their weapons in 24 of the 25 ID-AC incidents, with at least one subject shot in each of those 24 incidents, for an objective completion rate of 96%.
That’s an unusually high success rate:
… Of the 54 members involved in adversarial conflicts in 2019, 18 were
determined to have used a two-handed, supported position, and six utilized a one-handed, unsupported position.
My impression is that a certain amount of anti-police sentiment stems from cops killing people’s dogs. The NYPD shot at six dogs in 2019, killing four and wounding one. One cop got bitten by a pit bull. Are these high or low numbers?
Eight cops unintentionally fired their guns in 2019, with two wounding themselves. Nobody else was hit.
There were thirteen authorized firearm discharges:
There were 13 firearms discharges in 2019 that were classified as unauthorized use of firearms, a 116.7% increase compared to 2018. Nine of these incidents involved members of the service dying by suicide from a firearm – a 125% increase compared to the prior year. Two of the four other unauthorized discharge incidents resulted from non-members gaining access to a member’s firearm and discharging a round. One of the two remaining unauthorized incidents involved a member of a service discharging a round into the air during an off-duty dispute. That member was arrested and suspended from duty. The last unauthorized discharge incident involved a member who claimed that a non-member gained access to the member’s firearm and used it to commit suicide. Upon investigation, it was determined that the death was inconsistent with a suicide and the member was fired and arrested.
Cops kill themselves a lot:
I don’t know much about suicide statistics, but even considering that the NYPD numbers over 36,000, these seem like high numbers for mostly Catholics in mid-life with high-paying jobs and looking forward to great pensions. (The overall suicide rate in New Jersey is usually around the lowest in the country.)
I’d like to find Fire Department of New York suicide statistics to make a comparison of NYPD to FDNY. LAPD novelist Joseph Wambaugh has speculated that police work calls on and/or brings out darker impulses than does firefighting.
All I could find was that in the first eight months of 2020, there were three suicides among FDNY’s 4,408 emergency medical responders, and none among the 11,000+ firefighters. There was speculation that the nightmarish number of ambulance calls in the spring for covid might have stressed out the EMS.
The NYPD fired tasers 1,511 times in 2019, up from only 189 in 2015. My impression is that the NYPD was late to start using tasers but now is increasingly enthusiastic about them.
Still, tasers are pretty hit or miss. The NYPD defines an effective use of a taser as one that makes the aggressive or emotionally disturbed suspect even momentarily alter their behavior in a more compliant direction. But there are a whole lot of ways a taser can fail.
The NYPD used Level 1 physical force (forcible takedowns, hand strikes, and foot strikes) 7,006 times.
Force was used in approximately 2.4% of total arrests (214,615) effected by
members of the department in 2019.
While force complaints received by the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) have been on the decline over the last decade, from 3,226 in 2010 to 1,970 in 2019, the number of complaints in 2019 increased compared to 2018. There were 223 more force complaints to the CCRB in 2019 compared to the prior year, representing a 12.8% increase. The number of force allegations substantiated by CCRB in 2019 was 98; this represents a 34.2% increase compared to the 73 allegations substantiated in 2018. … . In 2019, NYPD personnel responded to more than 6.4 million calls for service … . The ratio of use of force incidents to substantiated force allegations is approximately 88 to 1.
New York City represents only about 1/40th of the U.S., but it is the single best documented place. So it’s worth noting that in hindsight, 2018 seems like As Good As It Gets, but already by 2019 the forces that led to the vast murder surge in 2020 were starting to bubble up.
Policing is an inherently dangerous profession, and members of the service understand that any encounter may turn violent. NYPD personnel strive to gain voluntary compliance but are not always successful. Some contentious encounters between uniformed members and the public become violent, and lead to injuries to both subjects and members of the service.
In 2019, there were 7,732 incidents in which subjects used force against members of the service. These incidents are often one and the same as the incidents in which members use force, but for analytical purposes, force used by members and force used against members are discussed independently. The majority of force used against NYPD personnel took place during arrest situations (56.1%) and encounters with emotionally disturbed persons (19.8%). Almost all force used against members of the service was limited to physical force without weapons (97.1%). In the remaining 228 incidents of force used against members of the service, weapons were used or displayed.
The NYPD had come so close to achieving a Monopoly on the Use of Violence that in 2019, the dirtbag class shot at the cops only 16 times. 2019 wasn’t the early 1970s in which the bad guys imagined that they could win a firefight with the nation’s largest police force. In fact, by the years before the Racial Reckoning of 2020, the dirtbag class in New York was so cowed by the might of the forces of the Rule of Law that they had largely stopped carrying illegal handguns.
Now, of course, we’ve pissed that historic achievement away. By about the second week of June 2020, the violent criminal class of NYC figured out they could carry their illegal pieces with little risk of being harassed by the minions of the very liberal leadership for violating the stringent gun control laws. Thus, the number of people killed or wounded by shootings in NYC doubled in 2020.
Razib Khan has suggested that the spread of Arab Islamic extremism around the Islamic world, including places in Asia where it hadn’t previously existed, is due in part to the Hajj to Mecca radicalizing pilgrims. The slightly richer people who can afford to fly to Mecca come back to their village and lord it over the peons who can’t afford to go to Mecca about how they aren’t living up to the austere standards of Meccan Islam: “Well, when I was in Mecca, we did it this way.”
My suggestion would be to spread the NYPD’s methods of achieving such a monopoly of violence that the cops don’t need to shoot all that many people to the other police departments of the U.S. by the federal government paying for 2,000 cops a week (100,000 per year) to fly to NYC for a week’s worth of training and drive-alongs with the NYPD. The invitations should be Plus One, with a $1,000 gift card for the Significant Other to go shopping with, and a Broadway show for everybody on the last night.
The forces of civilization can defeat the forces of barbarism … as long as we are clear on who should win and whom should be overcome.