Stats Show Shots Fired by NYPD at New Low

New York City police officers fired fewer shots last year than at any time in the last 40 years. Statistics released by the NYPD show 296 bullets were discharged in 2009, in 105 incidents. That's 19 percent fewer bullets than in 2008 and a steep drop from the historical high set in 1972 of more than 2,500 rounds fired in nearly one thousand incidents.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor Eugene O'Donnell says the reduction is due to changes in the NYPD's internal culture.

"And this really underscores the fact that regulation, oversight,  training, investing in this issue, making it the most significant issue in the agency -- they actually work," says O'Donnell. "Even the skeptical, hardened cop has to admit that there's been tremendous progress in this area."

Experts say the fatal police shootings of the two unarmed men -- Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Sean Bell in 2006 -- did prompt changes in the department. O'Donnell says criminal prosecutions of police officers for civilian shootings and large tort claim payouts for those shootings have provided a real incentive to the Department to reduce police gun use.

Last year, city police officers shot and killed 12 suspects and wounded 20. In 1971, 93 people were killed by police fire and another 221 wounded.

You can read the full report here.