Data out today from the New York City Police Department show the lowest number of police-involved shootings in 2010 since the department began keeping track of the numbers forty years ago.
Notwithstanding the high-profile killings of unarmed civilians, like Shem Walker, Sean Bell, Patrick Dorismond, Amadou Diallo, Ousemane Zongo, Timothy Stansbury, Jr., the department is defined not by the barrages of bullets loosed but by the restraint its officers show every day.
NYPD spokesperson Paul J. Brown wrote the following in an e-mail on Tuesday:
Police officers shot and killed eight individuals last year compared to 93 in 1971. Another 16 were shot and wounded last year, compared to 221 in 1971. This, despite the fact there were five thousand fewer officers then, or approximately 30,000 in 1971, compared to 34,700 today. Officers were armed with six-shot revolvers then, compared to 16-round capacity semiautomatic pistols today.I find this particularly noteworthy:
In 2010, there was an average of 34,565 police officers in the NYPD, of whom only .15 percent (52 officers) intentionally discharged a firearm at a subject.
There are a lot of police officers in the city. I find it reassuring to know that it would be very, very hard to find one who had fired his or her weapon.