It might not seem like shocking news to locals, but now it's official because the research says so: Police in Arizona shoot and kill a lot of people in comparison to other parts of the country, according to a new study.
The study, which was published by the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Public Health — an Ohio-based research project — on February 23, analyzed data from the Washington Post's longstanding running database of police shootings from across the nation. While the study focused on findings in Ohio, such as racial disparities in police shootings, it also compared other states and counties.
Arizona had the fourth highest rate of fatal police shootings in terms of deaths per one million people, the analysis found. The Grand Canyon state only came behind Alaska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Similarly, Maricopa County, which is Arizona's biggest county and the fourth largest county in the nation, ranked ninth out of the nation's 100 largest counties in terms of its fatal police shooting rate. Pima County landed just above Maricopa County at 8th place, followed by counties in states like Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
When it comes to total fatal police shootings that occurred over the 2015-2020 time frame, Arizona logged 276 while 168 of those occurred in Maricopa County alone. In Pima County, 40 people were shot and killed by police during those years.
The findings align with other probes of local police shootings, and prop up arguments from anti-police brutality activists that law enforcement are quick to use force. For instance, in 2018, the Phoenix Police Department shot at more people than any other law enforcement agency in the country (though not all of those shootings were fatal), according to an analysis by the Arizona Republic. In 2020, shootings by the Phoenix Police Department increased over 2019, but didn't match the spike in 2018.
The frequency of shootings and use-of-force also garner a large number of lawsuits. The Phoenix Police Department is routinely sued for excessive force and over the past decade, the city paid out an estimated $26 million in taxpayer dollars to settle lawsuits.
We've embedded a copy of the study below: