Police Commission hears data on 2021’s 37 shootings by LAPD officers
Of the 37 shootings by Los Angeles Police Department officers in 2021, 10 of them were during encounters with people experiencing homelessness and 15 were during encounters with people believed to have a mental illness, according to a report released Tuesday by the department.
LAPD Capt. Scot Williams and Assistant Chief Dominic Choi presented the 2021 Annual Use of Force report to the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday. A more detailed review of the report will be provided to commissioners on May 3.
The 37 shootings by LAPD officers in 2021 marked the highest amount since 2017.
The number of people with mental illnesses being contacted by police when an officer opened fire in 2021 represents an increase of nine from the previous year’s six. The number of people experiencing homelessness who were contacted by police who opened fire was up from zero the previous year. The department deems someone as having a mental illness if they had documented contact with a mental evaluation unit prior to the shooting.
“As presented today, we see from this report, it underscores significant challenges that we still face. Forty-one percent of the officer-involved shootings in 2021 involve someone apparently experiencing a mental health issue. This fact alone highlights the need for greater mental health service providers in our city. It also serves to illustrate the reasons officers need additional training in this area,” said Police Commission President William Briggs.
Choi told commissioners that the department is working to train officers on mental health intervention training, and 4,676 officers have completed the training so far. He added that the department is seeking to expand pilot programs that provide alternatives to police in some situations. The department’s diversion program with Didi Hirsch, which was launched in 2021, diverted 1,642 calls related to mental health issues last year and more than 400 calls so far this year.
“Our department is further challenged when we look at 38% of the suspects involved in an (officer-involved shooting) had an edged weapon. I’ve made no secret of my position with regard to how situations involving edged weapons should be handled … what we’d like to see is more de-escalation than use of non-lethal force before employing lethal force in these situations,” Briggs added.
The number of times officers opened fire while contacting people with edged weapons in 2021 was 14, representing a 19% increase above the 10-year average and a 100% increase over 2020.
Meanwhile, the number of times an officer opened fire while contacting someone with a firearm was 15, or 41% of the total police shootings in 2021 — 18% below the 10-year average.
Choi told commissioners that the department recently developed a training aimed at de-escalating encounters with people who have edged weapons.
Of the 37 shootings by officers, 17 were fatal, 14 of them resulted in injuries and six resulted in no injuries. Twenty-four of the victims were Hispanic, seven were Black, five were white and one was classified as “other.”
The department made a total of more than 1.324 million documented contacts with the public in 2021, and about 0.0027% of them resulted in officers firing their weapon, the department said. There were a total of 2,312 instances of officers using force during contact with the public, which represents 0.17% of all public contacts.