Opinion writer

The Arizona Republic reports that the Phoenix Police Department has tied its all-time high for police shootings in a year. Not that it’s “on pace” for an all-time high. It’s already there. And it’s only July.

For perspective, there were 21 Phoenix Police Department shootings in 2017; 25 in 2016; and 17 in 2015, according to department data. The all-time high of 31 in 2013 spurred a study with Arizona State University and calls for reform and enhanced training …

The Phoenix City Council earlier this month authorized a $149,000 independent study that leaders say will help them dig into what’s behind the rise in police-involved shootings. Police Chief Jeri Williams called on National Police Foundation researchers to help her and other leaders get a clearer picture about what has spurred the uptick in violent encounters.

“We have to start somewhere,” Williams has said. “Gathering data and information is what the Foundation is going to do in that somewhere piece.”

It’s good to know that the leadership in Phoenix at least recognizes the problem here. The paper points out that Philadelphia and San Antonio are about the same size, but so far this year have seen just four and eight shootings by police officers, respectively. Phoenix did see an increase in homicides last year — for a total of 161 — but that figure came after about a two-decade decline in murders. The increase also isn’t nearly on par with the increase in police-involved shootings. Finally, it’s worth noting that police have attributed at least nine of those murders to a single man, Cleophus Cooksey Jr.. Nationally, the number of people shot and killed by police officers is slightly down from last year. As for police officers killed by gunfire, there have been 35 so far this year in the United States, up from 27 at this time last year. Two were in Arizona, but neither was killed in Phoenix or Maricopa County.