Heavily armed police officers stand guard in the rain outside Trump Tower, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. (AP/Mary Altaffer)
Law Enforcement Officer deaths by firearm are down slightly through May 20th, as compared to this time last year. In 2016, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), 18 officers were killed by firearms.
So far this year, only 17 officers have been killed by firearms.
With nearly one million sworn officers in the U.S., the preliminary report may be welcome news to officers everywhere. Unfortunately, however, an epidemic of officer-involved shootings persists.
The NLEOMF has been tracking police officer deaths for decades now. Their mission statement reads in part, “Founded in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is dedicated to telling the story of American Law Enforcement and making it safer for those who serve.”
Unfortunately, in 2017 a surge of officers dying accidentally has been observed.
Total Fatalities: 51—↑ 42%
Firearms-related: 17—↓ 6%
Traffic-related: 22—↑ 69%
Other Causes: 12—↑ 140%
While firearms-related officer deaths are down across the nation, traffic-related and other causes for death, like heart attacks, appear to have skyrocketed. Also, not all of the firearms-related deaths can be attributed to shootouts with bad guys, presumably, as death by friendly fire is also included in that category. We contacted the NLEOMF who confirmed suicides by cops either on or off-duty were not recorded in the publication.
Although 2016 was a tragic year for law enforcement (as several officers were targeted in planned ambushes…NLEOMF noted the 7/7/16 killings of 5 Dallas PD officers), it can hardly reflect a war on police officers as some members of the media may want it to seem. During times of war and most notably, during prohibition, police officer deaths have skyrocketed, rising above the 300 mark during the height of state’s war on alcohol.
That fact, alone, is enough for those who care about police officer safety to consider becoming anti-war, and even stand against the failed War on Drugs which has led to the United States having a large prison population than any other developed country on earth.
In 2016, 64 officers were shot and killed, 21 of those dying in ambushes. Contrasting those statistics published by the NLEOMF are citizen-led organizations who track the number of people killed by police in the line of duty. Killed by Police tracks the number of officer-involved shootings which lead to someone’s death.
From Jan. 1 to May 20th of 2017, KBP has documented 453 deaths by cop, many of whom as TFTP has reported, were unarmed at the time of their deaths. Several officers in 2017 have already been charged with homicide, with more charges coming for investigations which have not yet concluded.
Deaths by cop are equal to 2016. From January 1-May 20th of 2016, 453 deaths by cop were documented by KBP, an organization which depends largely on news reports for its source work. As TFTP has reported, 2017 is the first year the FBI has tracked the death by cop statistics, depending upon voluntary reporting by law enforcement agencies (LEA). Many fear the number of those killed by cops are much higher and simply don’t get reported in the news.
Worth noting is the fact that the NLEOMF and the DBC statistics both pale in comparison to the number of Americans killed by criminals. While we are still waiting on 2016’s official numbers, there were 15,696 murders in 2015, with guns being used in nearly three-quarter of those killings.
Both organizations, one which tracks officer deaths, and the one which tracks those killed by cops, have equally important tasks. Being a police officer in the United States is a dangerous job, but certainly not the most dangerous.
There are a great number of occupations and professions which are much more dangerous than being a police officer, the most dangerous of which is being a truck driver. Nearly 800 truck drivers died in their line of work. Construction worker deaths (mostly Latino) come in second.
And there’s certainly no war on cops. There is, however, as some have called it, a staggering phenomenon taking place in law enforcement — nearly 1,200 people are being killed by police every year.
As NLEOMF reported, it’s more dangerous for police officers who are responding in their vehicles to calls for backup, than it is for them to be confronted with someone suspected of being armed. From 2011-2015, 167 officers died in automobile accidents. Almost 50 percent (49%) of the officers killed in those automobile accidents died in single car accidents, their own, presumably from driving recklessly or going too fast.
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