Axon has announced a new national database that will track gun related deaths between officers and the public, but unlike other officer-involved shooting databases Axon is including officer deaths. The company says the database represents a critical step toward achieving its “moonshot” goal of reducing gun-related deaths between police and the public.
Released in collaboration with the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR), an independent non-profit research firm, the database is the result of thoroughly researched, collected and analyzed public information related to all shooting deaths from 2021 through June 2023 in all U.S. jurisdictions involving officers and civilians. The Axon Public Safety Gun Fatality Database provides a comprehensive view of gunfire fatalities between police and the public in the United States, including the deaths of both civilians and law enforcement officers.
"When Axon launched our moonshot goal to cut gun deaths between police and the public, we realized that to drive progress, we all need better data," said Axon Founder and CEO Rick Smith. "Today's database launch highlights our commitment to our customers and to the public in achieving the moonshot goal we unveiled in 2022. Axon's part is to invest in technology, training and data that deepens trust. We are also thrilled to partner with IIR, a neutral and independent party doing this important and critical research."
The number of lives lost in 2022 in shootings between police and subjects was similar to 2021, and 2023 is on the same trajectory, the company says. In 2022, 1,201 civilian and law enforcement lives were lost to gun fatalities. The 2022 data provides the baseline data for the moonshot—meaning that cutting gun-related deaths in half over the next decade requires driving down fatalities to fewer than 600 per year, even as the population grows, Axon adds.
Including relevant public information on each incident where available, the Axon Public Safety Gun Fatality Database captures certain variables that are not usually analyzed for these incidents. To start, a set of baseline variables are included: general incident information, whether a TASER energy weapon was deployed, and data regarding the activity that prompted the incident, among others. The full set of variables will be expanded upon to include data such as the duration of the incident, if the incident took place indoors or outdoors, officer training experience, and whether officers were carrying a TASER energy weapon, the company says. For Axon's perspectives on this comprehensive data and how additional variables can help shape solutions to reduce gun deaths between police and the public, see the blog post.
Although Axon launched the moonshot goal and is funding the research, achieving this goal is necessarily bigger than one company, Axon says. The company adds it is proud to be working in partnership with some of the leading law enforcement agencies, experts, and associations in the United States, as well as community leaders and advocates on the project. “Over the course of the first year, we have convened over 40 meetings with more than 250 agencies and associations. This has built a broad contingency with hundreds of thousands of officers lending their support and partnership in achieving our moonshot goal. We anticipate sustained engagement through ongoing roundtables, discussions and identifying solutions together in support of delivering this joint overarching goal,” the company says.
Some leaders of national law enforcement organizations have voiced supported for the “moonshot.”
"We are proud to support the Axon Public Safety Gun Fatality Database, a groundbreaking endeavor that offers a comprehensive perspective on gun-related fatalities involving both police and the general public," said Fraternal Order of Police National President Patrick Yoes. "By incorporating data on law enforcement fatalities, we now possess a better understanding of the present situation, enabling us to make well-informed choices aimed at ensuring the safety of all individuals."
"We believe that research is essential for effective and trustworthy policing," said National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives President Rodney Bryant. "The database serves as a valuable resource for crafting solutions aimed at reducing deaths and strengthening the relationship between law enforcement and the public."
"The National Policing Institute is proud to partner with Axon as they release this database tracking gun-related deaths between law enforcement and civilians," said National Policing Institute President Jim Burch. "Data is the cornerstone upon which we build effective solutions to address this complex issue to foster a safer and more just society."
In addition to the database, Axon says it is committed to investing in better technology and training that will help achieve better outcomes and deepen trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they protect and serve. “TASER 10 and Axon Body 4, both released this year, are significant technology advancements toward our moonshot goal, providing more opportunities to help officers de-escalate and resolve conflicts and ensure that critical moments are captured,” the company says.
Axon says it also recognizes that safer outcomes start with improved training. “Axon is proud to announce the rollout of new TASER 10 and TASER 7 VR Controllers that are purpose-built for VR, in partnership with virtual reality market leader HTC VIVE, along with new immersive TASER energy weapon skills exercises for VR Simulator Training. As more agencies look to add TASER 10 to their programs, the new TASER 10 VR Controller gives officers substantial training opportunities by being able to deploy hundreds of TASER 10 cartridges in VR before deploying a live TASER 10. See Axon's blog post to learn more about the new TASER VR Controllers and training exercises, both rolling out this quarter.”