The Risks to the Thin Blue Line
Latest Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted Report Released
A Florida detective was shot and killed while investigating a residence believed to house a meth lab. An Arizona deputy sheriff lost his life responding to a burglary alarm at a business. A Washington state park ranger was shot and killed after she attempted to conduct a traffic stop.
These three law enforcement officers were among the 48 officers around the nation who died in 2012 as a result of felonious incidents in the line of duty, according to the FBI’s latest Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report. All 48 officers would have undoubtedly considered their actions a part of the job. But the duties performed by these brave men and women—and others just like them—are far from routine, and this latest report continues to highlight the risks law enforcement officers face on a daily basis.
Among the report’s findings:
- The average age of the officers feloniously killed in action in 2012 was 38; they had an average of 12 years of service.
- The victims worked in a variety of positions—many on vehicle patrol but also as detectives, officers on special assignments, undercover officers, etc.
- They died in a variety of situations—arrests, traffic pursuits or stops, investigations of suspicious persons or circumstances, ambushes, tactical situations, disturbance calls, and more.
- Six of the slain officers were off-duty but felt duty-bound to intercede and were acting in an official capacity at the time of the incidents.
- Of the 48 officers killed, 44 were killed with firearms.
Our latest LEOKA report also provides information on another 47 officers who died during 2012 as a result of accidents sustained in the line of duty and on the 52,901 law enforcement officers assaulted in the line of duty.
LEOKA’s overall goal is to reduce law enforcement deaths and assaults. By providing agencies with detailed descriptions of circumstances leading to officer fatalities and injuries every year, police training programs can be continuously enhanced to help officers stay safe during similar situations.
Beyond publishing the LEOKA report, the FBI has other initiatives that are designed to help protect law enforcement. For example:
- Our LEOKA program also offers an officer safety awareness training course that provides potentially life-saving information to help law enforcement personnel improve their situational awareness during activities like arrests, traffic stops, foot pursuits, ambushes, and other high-risk encounters.
- The FBI Academy’s one-week Law Enforcement Training for Safety and Survival program is designed to give participants the skills and mindset required to identify and handle critical situations in high-risk environments. Topics include arrest planning, ballistic shield deployment, low light operations, felony vehicle stops, and basic survival techniques.
- Our National Crime Information Center (NCIC)—accessed by more than 92,000 agencies—added a Violent Persons File in 2012 that can help officers quickly determine if, during a routine traffic stop or another type of encounter, they come across an individual who has a violent criminal history or who has previously threatened law enforcement.
Law enforcement will always be a dangerous profession, but enhanced training and awareness will better protect those who join its ranks.