Two-thirds of people shot by law enforcement officers in San Diego County over a 20-year period were under the influence of illegal drugs, according to a comprehensive study of officer-involved shootings released Thursday.
The report — commissioned and prepared by the District Attorney’s Office — looked at officer-involved shootings from 1993 through 2012, in what’s thought to be most comprehensive study on the subject in San Diego County history.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the results of the study can be used by officers to understand where and when an OIS is likely to occur.
Of the 367 shootings that occurred over the 20-year period, most were on Saturday night, in a street or an alley, and followed traffic stops. Fifty-seven percent of the shootings were fatal, according to the county’s top prosecutor.
Nineteen percent of the officer-involved shootings were “suicide-by-cop,” Dumanis said.
Not surprisingly, the agencies with the largest number of peace officers and the largest areas to patrol — the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department — had the most officer-involved shootings over the 20-year period.
“No police officer wants to be involved in a shooting, but when it does happen, the impacts to everyone involved last forever,” said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “This study is valuable in providing law enforcement an opportunity to help analyze the intricate dynamics in an officer-involved shooting.”
The report shows the variety of situations peace officers are faced with every day.
“San Diego sheriff’s deputies are frequently faced with split-second decisions under the most difficult of circumstances and these decisions have a lifetime of consequence for everyone involved,” said Sheriff Bill Gore.
“This study confirms the two most dangerous calls any law enforcement officer must respond to, and compounding this further are the illegal drugs almost always involved,” he said. “We welcome this study as an opportunity to better understand and further evaluate the complex factors associated with officer-involved shootings, always with the goal of using this information to keep our communities and law enforcement officers safer.”
The county averaged 18 officer-involved shootings per year between 1993 and 2012.
— City News Service
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