Officer-involved shootings on the rise across Valley - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Officer-involved shootings on the rise across Valley

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

It's been happening a lot lately in neighborhoods across the Valley, police officers using deadly force to stop a suspect.

"You never want to see a situation like that get to the point where there's going to be a loss of life," said Maricopa County attorney Bill Montgomery. "Again, and again and again we're seeing a situation where law enforcement officers, under very difficult circumstances, are having to make decisions to protect themselves and protect others in the community, and fire back at these suspects."

Just this past weekend, there were two more officer-involved shootings.

That makes 43 officer-involved shootings in Maricopa County, this year.

In 2012, there were 48 officer-involved shootings.

As a result, law enforcement agencies across Maricopa County were on high-alert.

Some experts believe criminals have become more brazen, willing to take a shot at officers  without considering the consequences.

Others suggest that officers are more aware of the dangers they face and are more willing to use deadly force.

Dr. Steven Pitt is a forensic psychiatrist in Scottsdale, who has worked with police agencies across the country on a number of high-profile cases, said that the latest numbers on officer-involved shootings, here in the Valley, are not an indication of any trend, or a sign of how officers now handle dangerous confrontations.

"When you're talking about officer-involved shootings, you have to look at the officers' actions, as well as the victims actions," said Pitt. "We don't simply look at it in terms of numbers, you look at it on a case by case basis, and look at all the variables that led up to that officer's decision to shoot that individual."

Seeing a small jump in officer-involved shootings this year is not an indication that officers are behaving differently, Pitt said.

According to Pitt, there needs to be more data over the next couple years, before you can start drawing conclusions about officers' behavior.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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