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Examining Police Discretion and the Use of Firearms Involving the New York City Police Department

James F. Albrecht

Abstract
The issue of police discretion has often been evaluated as a factor that may cause disparate
impact against minority communities, particularly in the United States. The New York City
Police Department, the largest municipal law enforcement agency in the USA, has
repeatedly come under criticism from civil rights group as it relates to police-suspect
interaction. Even more so, shootings involving the police have routinely been labeled as
racially biased. The NYPD has taken steps to reduce the number of police shootings, mainly
through enhanced tactical training and through the promotion of the use of such non-lethal
weapons as pepper spray and electronic shock devices (e.g. Taser). The US Supreme Court
has also played a major role as it examined and interpreted the legality of specific police
shooting scenarios. Policy implications and the impact of this significant court legislation
and improved instruction will be comprehensively examined.

Keywords: Police, Shootings, Disparate Impact, Racial Discrimination