Number of officer-involved shootings on the rise - 8 News NOW

Number of officer-involved shootings on the rise

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LAS VEGAS -- Ten people have been killed in officer-involved shootings in southern Nevada this year and officers have been in 14 shootouts with suspects since January.

There have been four in the month of June alone. The latest being Thursday night.

The Las Vegas Police Protective Association says the officers have not been at fault and don't want to shoot until it is the last resort.

For the last 15 years, the pattern is clear. It seems every four years, there is a year where there are more than 20 officer-involved shootings. It is the fourth year and southern Nevada is on pace to break 20 officer-involved shootings.

Just this week, a woman was shot and killed by a Metro Police officer while police say she was stabbing another woman with a knife.

Two days later, a late-night traffic stop turned into a shootout with police. A K-9 officer was able to bring the shooter into custody without life-threatening injuries. Both incidents happened just weeks after officers lost two of their uniformed brothers during a lunch break.

"I don't think that they are anymore less tolerant. I think they are certainly very hyper-aware of the dangers of the job they have chosen," Las Vegas Police Protective Association director Chris Collins said.

Collins says there is no rhyme or reason why there has been a jump in officer-involved shootings every four years. Two more this year and the numbers will eclipse last years' total.

There is no national database to compare officer-involved shootings in other cities to those in Las Vegas.

"I don't think it's the Wild West. I think that there are some contributing factors in that we are down to 1.7 cops per 1,000 permanent residents," Collins said.

Collins says more cops would mean fewer shootings. Others like Allen Lichtenstein with the American Civil Liberties Union disagree.

“Take the Stanley Gibson matter. It wasn't the shortage of police that caused that particular problem, it was a systemic failure." Lichtenstein said.

Stanley Gibson was a Gulf War veteran who was shot and killed by police December 2011. Poor radio communication and a mistaken police plan resulted in Gibson being shot four times.

Lichtenstein believes the department has not gone far enough to minimize needless shootings.

There are three fact-finding review panels for each shooting. If an officer is believed to be unjustified in the shooting, that officer's case would go to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.

In two weeks, there will be a police fatality public fact-finding review for the death of Patrick Heki. Heki was killed by police in December 2013.

It will be aired live on the Clark County TV.

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