Hitting (or missing) the mark

Christopher M. Donner (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Loyola University Chicago, Lake Shore Campus, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Nicole Popovich (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Loyola University Chicago, Lake Shore Campus, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Publication date: 10 June 2019



The purpose of this paper is to examine police shooting accuracy and the factors that influence whether officers hit, or miss, their intended target.


Descriptive statistics explore both incident-level and hit rate shooting accuracy in single officer/single suspect shooting incidents in the Dallas Police Department between 2003 and 2017. Multiple regression models analyze the predictive utility of officer, suspect and situational factors on the two accuracy outcomes.


Consistent with prior research, the results demonstrate that officers are often inaccurate in officer-involved shooting (OIS) incidents. Additionally, several factors emerged as significant predictors of shooting accuracy.

Practical implications

The results are discussed in terms of the practical implications for training and accountability.


It has been more than a decade since the last academic study investigated this important topic using actual OIS data. Acknowledging the general dearth of this literature, this study explores what factors contribute to shooting accuracy.



The authors would like to express appreciation to the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this manuscript. This version has been considerably improved because of their efforts.


Donner, C. and Popovich, N. (2019), "Hitting (or missing) the mark", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 474-489. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-05-2018-0060

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