Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Justice Center and Anchorage Police Dept release report on officer-involved shootings

The UAA Justice Center and the Anchorage Police Department (APD) have released a report, Officer-Involved Shootings in Anchorage 1993-2013. The report was released today, December 11, at a joint press conference held on the UAA campus. The report was authored by Dr. Troy Payne, Justice faculty.

The report is part of a cooperative project with the UAA Justice Center and the Anchorage Municipal Attorney's Office.  The project began in July and includes the creation of a database cataloging officer-involved shootings for the past 20 years in Anchorage.

The purpose of the project is three-fold. First, to identify and understand the important characteristics and trends, so that APD can implement properly focused strategies and techniques to avoid the use of lethal force when possible, but still effectively protect the public. Second, to educate community leaders about APD’s history with these particular events, and build a strong working relationship with them and policymakers to find effective ways to reduce criminal behaviors that lead to violent interactions with police. Third, to be sure that APD meets the local community’s expectations for safety and trust in the police department. Transparent, open access to the data will help meet this goal. It is anticipated that the project will be ongoing with the Justice Center regularly reporting and analyzing data.

The Report
This report describes situational, officer, and citizen characteristics of the 45 officer-involved shootings in Anchorage for the period 1 Jan 1993 through 11 May 2013 as recorded in Anchorage Police Department criminal investigation files. An “officer-involved shooting” is defined as an incident in which a sworn employee of the Anchorage Police Department purposefully discharged a firearm at a human being.

Data for this report was derived from investigation case files produced by the Anchorage Police Department at the time of the incident. The report has three limitations:
1. The data can be used to describe, but not to explain, officer-involved shootings;
2. The data reflect the views of officers involved or near the scene of the shooting,
with no independent investigation completed by project staff for this report;
3. The report describes rare events, the patterns of which are difficult (or impossible)
to distinguish from random chance.

The report is intended to provide an overall picture of the officer-involved shootings during the past two decades. While it cannot explain such events given the limitations of the data source, there is no other comprehensive source of aggregate officer-involved shooting data in Anchorage. This report is therefore a first step toward a better understanding of officer use of force in Anchorage.

 Dr. Troy Payne, UAA Justice Center, 786-1816  or
Jennifer Castro, APD, 786-8571 or

A link to the video of the press conference will be provided shortly.