A Descriptive Analysis of Police Shootings in Houston

Understanding the nature of officer-involved shootings is of critical interest to policy makers, scholars, and the public. In the current article, we examined descriptive trends in officer-involved shootings in the Houston Police Department between the years 2005 and 2019. Overall, the incidence of such shootings declined over time. Officer-involved shootings reflected demographic changes in the underlying police department composition. Officer-suspect shooting dyads tended to reflect same-race characteristics, and most suspects were armed at the time of the shooting (though approximately 20% were not). Officers’ race appeared to be a minor component of officer-involved shootings. Female officers were underrepresented in officer-involved shootings. We conclude that institutional factors related to officer training rather than officer race are more crucial to consider in regard to reducing police shootings.