Photo Finish - Hoover Initiated Collection of Data on Officers Killed

November 1, 2011
Originally published in the September 2011 edition of the CJIS Link, Volume 13, Number 3

“On average of once a week, somewhere in the United States, a law enforcement officer is killed at the hands of the underworld. It is unfortunate that we do not possess accurate statistics upon this subject…” FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover commented at the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s convention in Kansas City, Missouri, in September 1936. (Yearbook, International Association of Chiefs of Police, 1936-1937, p. 15)

The following year, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program began collecting limited information from selected agencies on officers who were killed while performing their duties. The data were published annually in Crime in the United States (CIUS) until, as a result of the Analysis of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted form in 1972, the UCR Program began annually publishing the Law Enforcement Officers Killed Summary.

Over the years, law enforcement has relied on the information from the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted Program as a training tool for its officers. As a result of the value law enforcement places on the data and the descriptions of incidents in which officers have been feloniously killed, revisions have been made to the form since 1972. Starting this year, law enforcement agencies have been able to provide even more specific information that can be used to study these tragic incidents via more extensive data collection forms.

The 2010 edition of the modern Web publication Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted is set to be released in October. Find it online at www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr.

Sadly, Hoover never saw the collection of statistics he may have imagined decades before. The first edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed Summary was published in 1973, but he died on May 2, 1972, after serving as FBI Director for 48 years.

Director J. Edgar Hoover in the mid-1920s.
Photo Finish graphic for CJIS Link publication.