Written by: Greg Ellifritz
The FBI recently released its annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report. According to the FBI webpage:
“The FBI publishes Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted each year to provide information about officers who were killed, feloniously or accidentally, and those officers who were assaulted while performing their duties.”
I find the report to be a treasure trove of information about cop-killing violent criminals. It should be mandatory reading for every police officer. Armed citizens will also find the information useful as the criminals who prey on cops also regularly attack citizens in a similar manner.
The report is long. It doesn’t matter. Take the time to read it. You may learn something that will save your life.
One of the most interesting sections is the chapter of Summaries of Officers Feloniously Killed. The chapter provides short descriptions of the circumstances involved in all 27 felonious police deaths last year. Take your time to analyze each situation. If you are a cop, figure out how you might use the lessons presented in this report to improve your tactics and awareness. Don’t let these officers’ deaths be in vain. They would want you to learn from their mistakes.
Several interesting facts jumped out at me this year. While I’m only barely scratching the surface of the report, here are some of my thoughts…
– Numbers of officers killed. This table shows that for the last 10 years, LE deaths have hovered in a very narrow range. During every year in that time frame LE deaths averaged around 50 per year. Last year the police felonious death rate was the lowest it has been in 10 years at 27 officers killed. I would like to think that it’s a step in the right direction, but more likely it is a statistical anomaly similar to the unusually high number of officers killed in 2011. The preliminary stats for 2014 already show 47 felonious deaths year to date.
– Very few officers die from knife assaults. Only three officers were stabbed to death in the last 10 years of reporting. The statement “I’d rather be shot than stabbed” truly displays the ignorance of the speaker.
– The age of the average officer killed has not changed. It has hovered around 39 for more than a decade. It’s not the rookies or the old guys who are getting killed. The ones dying are experienced officers in the prime of their career. They tend to feel more comfortable with their abilities and have years of good outcomes under their belts. This confidence can hurt them.
– Over 7% of the officers killed were female this year. This was the down from last year’s high of 11%, but still almost double the historical average. Historically, less than 5% of officers killed are women. I don’t know if criminals are being more aggressive with female officers or if the number merely reflects the fact that there are more women than ever working the streets.
– Only one officer last year was killed with his own weapon. The 10-year average is almost 10%. This is one of the few positive data points in this report. Either officers are getting better weapon retention training or are using better quality retention holsters. Both are good developments.
– 7% of officers killed were off duty during the attack. Why would any police officer choose not to carry his gun off duty? Some officers’ laziness and apathy are astounding to me. Please choose carefully if you really need to get involved in any off duty encounter. You probably won’t have your vest, your radio, your rifle, or your friends.
– Two-thirds of officers killed did not even attempt to use their duty weapon to stop the attack. That means that the attacks on the officers happened very suddenly or unexpectedly in most cases. Police trainers need to do a better job teaching the importance of pre-assault indicators and body language. Historically less than half of officers killed did not attempt to fire their weapons. We are getting worse at picking up assaultive cues. I think it’s because we tend to hire officers now how have never been in a fight or experienced any real aggression outside police academy training.
–Officers were involved in more long distance confrontations this year than ever before. Historically, about half of all officers killed have been closer than five feet from their attacker at the time of death. This year that number was much smaller at 33%. This year a stunning 26% of officers killed were greater than 21 feet away from their attackers. How good is your long distance pistol shooting?
-30% of officers killed by firearms were not wearing body armor. It’s clear that body armor works. If you don’t wear your vest on duty, you need to adjust your attitude. Blood is way worse than sweat.
– Only 17% of killers were drunk or high at the time of the officer’s death. Only 7% were mentally ill. Police deaths can’t generally be blamed on these factors. People who kill cops are usually sane and sober. They are just exceptionally violent psychopaths. Everyone needs to acknowledge that people like this exist.
– I noted several killers first shot officers in the body or limbs. When the officers went down, the killers approached and fired multiple head shots to finish the officer. If you are shot, stay in the fight! Be able to draw and fire your weapon from the ground as well as from standing positions. Ensure that you are equally proficient with either hand. If your dominant hand is injured, be sure you can draw and fire a weapon with your off hand as well.
– 2,266 officers were assaulted with a firearm last year, yet only 10.9% of them were injured. That means a lot of criminals fire shots at cops, but miss. Assuming that multiple shots were fired in at least some of the incidents, criminal hit rates are well under 10%. That’s a good thing for the cops being shot at, but may not be a good thing for anyone else around. Those bullets have to hit something! If you see cops with drawn weapons, get out of the area or seek cover. Don’t hang around to watch or you might get hit by one of the 90% of bullets criminals fire that miss the intended target!
– 9.3% of officers in the USA were assaulted last year. If you are a cop and your firearms/DT skills aren’t up to par, get some training!
Most of these observations are directed at my police officer readers. If you aren’t a cop, what does this report mean for you?
I would assert that this report is just as important for the armed citizen as it is for the police officer. 71% of the offenders in the study had prior criminal records. 21% were actually on probation, parole, or conditional release at the time they killed a cop. Who do you think were victimized by the killers’ previous crimes? You guessed it…people like you. The same criminals who kill cops also victimize armed citizens. Study your enemy and be prepared!
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