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FBI’s 2016 LEOKA stats tell a concerning story

2016 saw an increase by more than three times of death by rifle fire over 2015

A total of 118 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year.

Each year the FBI compiles and releases the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted study. The report is a must read for all police officers.

A total of 118 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year. Here is a breakdown of how those police officers died.

Officers Feloniously Killed

Sixty-six officers lost their lives in 2016 as a result of felonious assault, which is up from 41 officers in 2015, an increase of over a 60 percent.

The profile of the average officer killed was 40 years of age, with 14 years of experience.

The largest number of officers killed, 17, were killed in an ambush. This was followed by 13 police officers who died responding to disturbance calls. Nine officers each died while responding to disturbance calls and investigating suspicious persons or situations. Tactical situations (barricaded subject, high risk entry/hostage situations) accounted for six officers’ lives. Five were killed doing investigative tasks and four died while involved in traffic pursuits or stops. Unprovoked attacks were responsible for the remaining three officers’ deaths.

Sixty-two officers died as the result of gunshot wounds: 37 by handgun, 24 by rifle and one by shotgun. In 2015 there were 29 by handgun, seven by rifle and one by shotgun. This indicates an increase, by more than three times, of death by rifle fire and 27 percent by pistol. Additionally, four police officers were killed by vehicles.

The report indicates a disturbing increase of more than 142 percent in officers killed in ambush compared to the seven officers in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Just as disturbing is a nearly 243 percent increase in the death of officers by rifle fire.

Officers Assaulted

Assaults on officers rose 12 percent compared to 2015 with 50,991 and 2016 with 57,180. Of those officers assaulted in 2016, 28.9 percent sustained some type of reported injury.

Personal weapons (hands and feet) accounted for the majority (78 percent) of injuries with a 10 percent increase since 2015.

Firearms were responsible for a 15 percent increase from last year with 2,377 officers threatened or injured.

There was a 19 percent increase in officers assaulted with edged weapons.

Other dangerous weapons used against officers also showed an increase of 18 percent over the previous year.

Across the board from officers killed to those assaulted and injured, there has been a dramatic rise in attacks on police officers nationwide. Proper tactics, body armor use and awareness are necessary to keep you safe against this dangerous and all too often deadly trend.

Officers Accidently Killed

The area of our profession we have the most personal control over is injury and death from accidents. Unfortunately, that did not prevent an increase of accidental death by 15 percent from 2015 with 52 officers dying in 2016.

Vehicle accidents accounted for 26 officer deaths.

Twelve officers were struck by vehicles: seven while directing traffic or assisting motorists, five while doing traffic stops or road blocks.

Seven died in motorcycle crashes.

Three were accidently shot in crossfire, mistaken identity or other firearms mishaps.

Two officers drowned, one died in an aircraft crash and one officer died as a result of another type of accident.

Remembering and following the tenants of Below 100 will go a long way toward reducing officer deaths:

  • Slow down, speed kills quickly.
  • Wear your seatbelt, because the laws of physics will always be obeyed during a traffic crash.
  • Wear your vest.

According to data gathered from LEOKA, you have a 76 percent less chance of being killed if you wear your vest. Remember that complacency kills, stay aware of the dangers of the job, guns, knives, vehicles and accidents. Use the acronym W.I.N. (What’s Important Now) to constantly evaluate your positioning, tactics and mindset to stay mentally engaged throughout your shift.

The LEOKA report contains some startling information regarding officer safety. This article just touched the surface of that information. Read the study and use the knowledge to make yourself smarter, better and harder to kill and injure.

In February 2014, Duane Wolfe retired from his career as a Minnesota Peace Officer after more than 25 years of service (beginning in 1988). During his career, he served as a patrolman, sergeant, S.R.T., use of force and firearms instructor. He was a full-time law enforcement instructor at Alexandria Technical & Community College in Alexandria, Minnesota for 28 years. Duane has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University and a Masters Degree in Education from Southwest State University.