Comparing the number of Jacksonville police-involved shootings to major U.S. cities

Last year, JSO had a total of 15 officer-involved shootings

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Tuesday night police-involved shooting that left a JSO officer in critical condition and the suspect dead is an example of what’s happening across the United States.

“The frequency, we have not seen. I have not seen this when I was on patrol, back-to-back like this,” said Lakesha Burton, News4JAX Crime and Safety Analyst and retired JSO assistant chief.

Within the first four months of this year, there have been five officer-involved shootings in Jacksonville. Three have resulted in officers being injured.

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There are many factors that play into why there appears to be more officer-involved shootings.

According to Burton, two of those factors include the wrong people getting access to guns and the growing lack of respect for the men and women who put on the police uniform.

“Our third officer this year has been shot. That is something I have not seen in the 31 years I’ve been working here. I’ve been Sheriff since November. It’s getting ridiculous ad dangerous,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said.

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Last year, JSO had a total of 15 officer-involved shootings.

Burton said gun violence toward police is not isolated to Jacksonville. She also says certain factors play a major role in these dangerous and deadly encounters.

“We’re seeing the impact of it all over our country. There are several reasons, but if you look at the last decade, access to guns, mental illness, and how people feel about law enforcement officers,” Burton said.

Jacksonville is the largest city in the country when it comes to landmass. But much smaller in population compared to Los Angeles and Chicago, cities with police departments that are also experiencing a large number of officer-involved shootings.

In Chicago, there were 29 officer-involved shootings since January in which officers were shot at. One officer has died. During the same time frame last year, there were only 16 officer-involved shootings in which three officers were injured.

So far this year in Los Angeles, LAPD has experienced six officer-involved shootings that resulted in two officers being injured by gunmen. LA may have more people than Jacksonville, but when you do the math, the two cities are nearly neck and neck when it comes to officer-involved shootings and officers being injured by gunmen within the first four months of the year.

“Average-wise, JSO has averaged 10 to 15 shootings for a long time,” Burton said.

Only time will tell if the numbers for this year continue to inch closer to that the yearly average in Jacksonville.

RELATED | These retired JSO officers shot in line of duty now train next generation on how to deal with life-or-death situations

News4JAX also reached out to the NYPD to get their numbers on officer-involved shootings for this year and last year and it is still collecting the data.

According to an analysis from the Washinton Post, 1,062 people have been shot and killed by police in the past 12 months in the United States.

Burton said she never had to fire her weapon at a suspect when she worked for JSO, but she has seen her fair share of former coworkers deal with the aftermath of using deadly force when there was no other option to stop a dangerous suspect.

“I have seen throughout my career, great strides by law enforcement to address mental health issues within the agency and also this whole stigma of, ‘I’m strong. I can’t tell,” in this male dominant profession. And a lot of times, I’ve seen people say they need help,” Burton said.

Every time an officer is involved in a shooting, they are placed on administrative leave. During that time, investigators further examine the officer’s actions to determine if the officer’s use of deadly force was justified. But Burton said that time away from the streets is also valuable in making sure the officer is physically and psychologically fit to return to his or her patrol duties.

“Officer-involved shootings are very traumatic incidents. Not only for the officer who may have been shot but those who are at the scene, so it’s important for them to have that downtime to destress and talk things out and give them that time to regroup,” Burton said.

Tuesday night’s police shooting outside Baptist South is a good example of the psychological toll that can be placed on officers. Several officers said they were forced to shoot and kill a suspect after the suspect shot an officer in the face. Hearts were heavy not knowing if that fellow officer would survive.

That officer who was shot Tuesday night is still in critical condition, according to a recent update from the hospital.

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