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For Law Enforcement Officers
(December 2, 2005)

*** For Law Enforcement Officers ***

 

Often during the daily routine of work, it is easy to become complacent to the dangers we face. As the years pass by, we tend to become slower to react to potential threats. This is due largely in part to our efforts to be perceived by citizens as the “kind and gentle” officer as opposed to the “he acted like I am a criminal” mentality. Over time, most of us find a comfortable “middle-of-the-road approach” that exhibits a friendly disposition to the public. The purpose of this article is to remind us that while we hold the mask of the friendly disposition, we must be ready with no notice whatsoever to throw down the mask and enter combat. The following statistics are from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted statistics compiled cumulatively from 1995 through 2004. It is important to remember that these statistics are felonious assaults only, not accidental deaths of officers. Some of these statistics are old and no surprise, but several are showing new trends that we should recognize, including the fact that fatal incidents are statistically more likely to occur in non-metropolitan counties and small cities than in jurisdictions with populations of 250,000 or greater.

             The most dangerous time to be a law enforcement officer is between 2000 and 2200 hours on Thursday and Friday nights. Most officers murdered were 31 to 40+ years of age and averaged 10 years on their department. Categorically, the officers were white males averaging 5’11” tall and 198 pounds.

             80% of the time, the victim officer’s weapon was not stolen, and the assailant provided the weapon used to inflict the fatal injuries. Most often, this weapon was a 9mm handgun. Only 20% of fatally wounded officers had an opportunity to fire their weapon, while another 15% attempted to fire their weapon. Most of these assaults occur during arrest situations, while the next highest category for the Midwest region was traffic pursuits and traffic violation stops. 75% of the officers killed had contact with their dispatcher prior to being killed. Most of the assaults during traffic stops occurred during the approach to the vehicle. Half of those killed were killed at a distance of zero to five feet from their attacker. Most of these incidents occurred to officers assigned to a one officer vehicle; however, an interesting trend shows that more recently, there have been more officers killed while other back-up assistance was already on the scene when the incident occurred.

             Only half of the officers killed were wearing body armor. If you think this makes wearing body armor pointless, think again. Not one single bullet in the United States penetrated a vest due to body armor failure.

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