Police hit rates on shootings as low as 17.4 percent

New York City police statistics show that simply hitting a target, let alone hitting it in a specific spot, is a difficult challenge. In 2006, in cases where police officers intentionally fired a gun at a person, they discharged 364 bullets and hit their target 103 times, for a hit rate of 28.3 percent, according to the department’s Firearms Discharge Report. The police shot and killed 13 people last year.
In 2005, officers fired 472 times in the same circumstances, hitting their mark 82 times, for a 17.4 percent hit rate. They shot and killed nine people that year.
In all shootings — including those against people, animals and in suicides and other situations — New York City officers achieved a 34 percent accuracy rate (182 out of 540), and a 43 percent accuracy rate when the target ranged from zero to six feet away. Nearly half the shots they fired last year were within that distance.
In Los Angeles, where there are far fewer shots discharged, the police fired 67 times in 2006 and had 27 hits, a 40 percent hit rate, which, while better than New York’s, still shows that they miss targets more often they hit them. . . .

The one important piece of information that is missing here is the number of people that the police shot at. If you take the estimate that I have that only about 5 percent of confrontations between armed victims and criminals result in the victim firing a gun, a 17.4 percent hit rate would imply that fewer than one percent of criminals would be shot. It would be interesting for someone to explain how this hit rate varies across cities.

Thanks very much to Rich for sending me this link.

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