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Phoenix chief blames police shootings on aggressive armed suspects

"It's shocking to me," said Williams, who has served in law enforcement for 29 years.

PHOENIX - In an exclusive interview with 12 News, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Friday the sharp rise in police shootings this year was the result of defiant suspects confronting her officers.

"It's shocking to me," said Williams, who has served in law enforcement for 29 years.

"Every single one (of the shootings) had the individual we came in contact with ... actively being aggressive towards our officers. They either had guns or knives."

Phoenix police report 14 shootings by police officers so far this year. At the current rate, the number of police shootings would double last year's total of 21.

Williams said she had asked Arizona State University researchers to study the shootings, to figure out whether drugs, mental illness or something else was behind the suspects' defiance.

Williams declined to say whether she supported measures, such as universal background checks, to help keep guns out of the hands of aggressors.

But she does support the piece of Gov. Doug Ducey's school-safety plan that would make it easier to take away the weapons of people deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Williams also said gaps in the Valley's mental-health system needed to be closed in order to treat offenders like the man charged with killing a homeowner in a downtown neighborhood.

The suspect, Curtis Bagley, had a history of mental illness. Williams said at a community meeting this week that Bagley had been arrested 36 times over the past decade.

You can watch the full version of the interview here.

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