Police officer involved shootings – retrospective study of situational characteristics

Ulf Petersson, Johan Bertilsson, Peter Fredriksson, Måns Magnusson, Per Anders Fransson

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The study analyzed the situational characteristics of 112 incidents where police used firearms to handle high threat situations. Most shooting incidents emanated from usually uneventful tasks, e.g., handling burglaries or disturbances. The assailants were commonly armed with firearms (26%), sharp (27%) or blunt objects (10%). The incidents were regularly short-lasting (in 39% were shots fired ≤3 s from threat emerged) and occurred at short distances (in 42% at distances ≤3 m). Predominantly, the first responders had to address the situation and did so with warning shots or, equally common, with fire-for-effect shots (40%) or a combination thereof. Psychological stress was manifested as feelings of panic at some point and as motor skill alterations, e.g., firing without using sights and with one hand only. Analysis of these incidents shows that all field duty police officers should receive training in handling potentially life-threatening, sudden, close-range attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-321
Number of pages16
JournalPolice Practice and Research
Issue number3
Early online date2017 Feb 15
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified

Free keywords

  • firearms
  • motor control
  • officer involved shootings
  • Police use of force
  • psychomotor


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