Phoenix Police Department – Deadly Force Analysis

Project Purpose/Goal

The National Police Foundation proposes to conduct an in-depth analysis of deadly force incidents in Phoenix over the last 3-5 years to provide the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) a deeper understanding of these events. The analysis will focus on factors contributing to the occurrence of deadly force incidents, the nature of the encounter (including whether or not subject(s) are armed and/or resist).

Approach, Results and Implications

This project will result in a final report with detailed descriptions of the findings as well as actionable recommendations for improving community and officer safety as it relates to the use of deadly force.

The key questions that we will attempt to answer include:

  • Is the use of deadly force in Phoenix becoming more frequent and why?
  • What types of calls and encounters (including citizen and officer initiated) are resulting in deadly force?
  • Are subjects compliant or resisting officers (including attempted/actual assaults) more frequently and why?
  • Could additional/alternative steps be taken to reduce the need for deadly force?
  • How many use of force situations could have become deadly but did not? (weapon possession/resist)
  • Have officer injuries and/or assaults on officers increased?
  • Has use of force generally increased?
  • Could policies or policy changes be impacting use of force rates?
  • Could training or changes to training be impacting use of force rates?
  • Could additional policies, procedures, and/or training reduce the prevalence of use of force, specifically deadly force?

These questions generally follow prior research that identified “the deadly mix” of the officers, suspects, and the circumstances that brought them together to gain a full picture of each incident and not only what occurred by how and why, from point of initiation to conclusion.

Required Data

We will immediately begin by collecting and analyzing the following (including on-site reviews as required):

  • Use of force data (2014-2018)
  • OIS incident reports (2014-2018) (including fatal and non-fatal; we have data from 2016 and partial 2017 data
  • OIS investigative reports (2014-2018)
  • CAD/Incident/Arrest Data (as needed) (2014-2018)
  • Citizen complaint data (2014-2018)
  • Random sample of body-worn camera video for OIS incidents
  • Interviews with key PPD staff responsible for force investigations, training, and policy

We will use data collected through the MCCA-National Police Foundation OIS initiative to create benchmarking so that Phoenix’s data and incidents can be compared to others in the region and nationally/internationally.

 Timeline and Deliverables:

The study was initiated in late August 2018.

Month 1: Initial Data Collection (onsite and remote) + Monthly Status Briefing
Month 2: Initial Analysis and Additional Data Collection + Monthly Status Briefing
Month 3: Interviews and Draft Analysis + Monthly Status Briefing
Month 4: Review of Policies, Procedures, Training, and Analysis + Monthly Status Briefing
Month 5: Deliver draft and develop final report/recommendations + Monthly Status Briefing
Month 6: Respond to Comments and Finalize/Deliver w/ Presentation to Command Staff

A final report will be developed to present the findings of the overall analysis and recommendations to the PPD. Recommendations may involve further analysis/research, additional or alternative training, community outreach and engagement strategies for mitigation, officer safety and wellness strategies related to the issues studied, and recommendations for consideration of policy or procedural changes or additional tools/resources for officers.

Funding & Collaboration

The City of Phoenix awarded a $149,000 contract to the Police Foundation in late July 2018 to conduct the study. The Police Foundation team includes Police Foundation staff and Drs. Geoff Alpert, Jeff Rojek, Justin Nix and Scott Wolf.

The Police Foundation will coordinate with Arizona State University which is simultaneously conducting analysis of community concerns and response.

Point of Contact:

Jim Burch
Interim President
Police Foundation


Phoenix, deadly force, use of force