More than 50 police officers involved in fatal shootings this year had previously fired their guns in deadly on-duty shootings, according to a Washington Post investigation.
For a handful of officers, it was their third fatal shooting. For one officer, it was his fourth.
The findings concerned many law enforcement experts, who said that most officers never fire their weapons on the job. The analysis also exposed another gap in the federal government’s oversight of fatal police shootings nationwide: the absence of a system for tracking multiple shootings by individual officers.
The 55 officers were identified as part of a Post project tracking all fatal shootings by police in the line of duty in 2015. It is the first nationwide attempt to determine whether fatal police shootings are isolated events in an officer’s career or whether some officers repeatedly fire their weapons in deadly encounters.
The Post also found that an additional 45 officers had previously been involved in non-fatal shootings.
“It’s a national embarrassment. We don’t even know how many times cops pull their triggers,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina.