What Are The Odds?

Monday, May 12, 2008


Growing up, I watched hundreds of cops shows and movies - and just about all of them were centered around New York.  I learned that this is the hardest city on Earth and that it’s a constant battle between NYC’s cops and criminals.  I’ve also seen hundreds of criminals shot by New York’s finest.

So how does this compare with reality?  I’d never thought about it until I read this recent New York Times article.

Before we get into the details, ask yourself: “how many people were shot at last year by New York cops?”

Do you think it was 10, 100 or 1,000 people?

The correct answer: 60.

Of those, 21 were hit, for a “hit rate” of 34%.  I have no idea if those are good or bad odds of being hit in a gunfight, but the LAPD has a hit rate of 31%.

However, before you get too excited and run out to violate the law, consider that when the NYPD hits their target, they hit them between three and four times and kill them two in three times.

Seen another way, this should tell you how unlikely a cop is to ever fire their gun.  According to Wikipedia, New York has 36,000 police officers.  That means that last year only 1 in 600 shot at someone.  At that rate, most cops will never fire on anyone in their career (and as a New Yorker, that makes me happy).

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