taser_2.jpgThe RAND Corporation issued the findings of a report that commissioned by the NYPD in the wake of the Sean Bell shooting. Among the recommendations were that the NYPD should incorporate more realistic scenarios into its firearm training and increase the number of non-lethal weapons carried by personnel on the street.

The report, started in January 2007, focuses on preventing incidents similar to the Bell shooting, where police officers fired 50 times. RAND identified what happened in that incident as "reflexive," or contagious, shooting, where officers unthinkingly just blast away based on incorrect information and the immediate feedback of hearing others shooting and bullets possibly ricocheting back at them. [Below, an image of the doctor's sketch detailing bullet wounds of Bell's friend Joseph Guzman.]

Out of all shooting incidents in 2004 through 2006, the report concluded 25 individual cases (5% of total police shootings) could have been avoided if officers had been provided with Tasers. The NYPD is immediately equipping about one in five sergeants on patrol with the non-lethal weapons.

The report also recommended general firearm training to include more realistic and confusing elements, like the sound of gunfire or people yelling something unsubstantiated like "He's got a gun!" RAND did note NYPD personnel's restraint in shooting incidents compared very favorably to other major police departments around the country.

However Commissioner Kelly said the study "was not a panacea; it wasn’t going to solve all issues as far as shootings are concerned.” The NYCLU agrees and wonders why the report lacks analysis of why police seem to shoot more at minorities, not to mention why the police seem to be firing more overall. The report's lead author apologized for not including race and ethnicity, calling it an oversight.