Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,
The number of police officers killed on duty dropped to near a 50-year low in 2017. As of December 28, 2017, 128 officers died in the line of duty. That’s down 10% from 2016, when 143 officers died, according to new data from National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The only other year with fewer deaths in the past five decades was 2013, when 116 officers were killed.
These deaths should not all be interpreted as the result of attacks from members of the public. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of police-officer deaths, although shootings play a significant role.
Although we continue to hear complaints about a “war on cops” from police labor unions, government institutions, and their allies, there is no evidence to support the claim.
As Tate Fegley noted in October, the most recent data continues a decades-long trend:
[T]here has been a downward trend in officer deaths over the last few decades. In 2016, the number of police officers killed by gunfire was less than half of what it was in the early seventies. Contrary to the narrative of there being a war on cops, rather than a series of isolated incidents of violence against police officers, the number of officers being killed is going down while the number of people employed as police officers goes up.
Since we are dealing with such small numbers, of course, it is impossible to claim that this year’s drop to the second-lowest in 50 years represents any sort of new trend. It would only take an additional 10 shooting deaths to significantly change the trend.
Nevertheless policing overall is becoming statistically safer.
But to what should we attribute this trend?
According to USA Today, it is at least partly attributable to “officer safety”:
“In my 33 years doing this, I’ve never seen the amount of awareness given to officer safety and wellness,” [Craig Floyd, president and chief executive of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund] said. “That’s definitely been paying off and will continue to help make law enforcement a significantly safer profession.”
Meanwhile, “The number of people killed by officers increased slightly from 963 in 2016 to 971 this year, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.” In other words, in recent years, more than seven times as many people are killed by police, than police die on duty from …read more