TBI investigates 14 officer-involved shootings in 2019 to date

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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been asked to investigate 14 officer-involved shootings statewide since Jan. 1.

At least six of those incidents took place in the month of February.

There’s been at least six officer-involved shootings in East Tennessee alone since the beginning of the year.

Despite how many happened in a small timeframe, Rick Scarbrough, execuctive director of the Law Enforcement Innovation Center, said there hasn’t been a significant increase or decrease of officer-involved shootings in the past few years.

Scarbrough said social media played a large role in the perception of how often they occur.

The reason an officer fires their gun at a suspect varies on the situation, Scarbrough said.

“The training law enforcement receives is very consistent. The policies are very consistent. Unfortunately, the variable is going to be the people they come into contact with,” Scarbrough explained.

He said an officer has to react and make tough choices in a matter of seconds, sometimes with little information and under stress.

Officers are trained in real-life situations using similations that almost identically replicate any stressful environment or situation, he said, but no two calls are the same though.

He said domestic disturbances can be the most dangerous situations officers are called to.

“What’s dangerous for us is it’s so unpredictable. Again, it may be the victim that actually turns on law enforcement,” Scarbrough said.

It’s difficult to determine how many officer-involved shootings occur every year in previous years  because the federal government didn’t collect the data and publish it.

The FBI started to collect that data for the first time at the beginning of 2019, similar to how it collects data for the Uniform Crime Reports.

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