Washington, D.C. – Data from 2017 reveals that the idea that there is a “war on cops” is nothing more than police propaganda, as the number of officers killed in the line of duty dropped to the second-lowest total in more than 50 years.
Conversely, there were over 1,000 people killed by cops for the fourth year in a row, according to the website killedbypolice.net, which operates a database of individuals killed by law enforcement officers.
According to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit aimed at honoring officers and improving safety, as of December 28:
According to preliminary data, 128 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty this year, decreasing 10 percent over the 143 officers killed in 2016.
— NLEOMF (@NLEOMF) December 28, 2017
In 2017: 128 officers died in the line of duty, 44 of which were shot and killed.
In 2016: 143 officers died, with 66 being gunned down – meaning one-third fewer officers died of gunshot wounds.
Firearms-related law enforcement fatalities decreased in 2017. Forty-four officers were shot and killed in 2017 compared to 66 in 2016, a 33 percent decrease. Preliminary 2017 Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report: https://t.co/CFv490Qexu. pic.twitter.com/BYSRywxlwD
— NLEOMF (@NLEOMF) December 28, 2017
The only other year there were fewer police deaths in nearly the last five decades was 2013, when a total of 116 officers died in the line of duty.
“This is one of those good-news, bad-news situations,” said Craig Floyd, president and chief executive of National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. “On one hand, you had 128 officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, showing the cost of public safety, but for the first time since 2013, the number of deaths has actually declined.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that although 128 officers died in the line of duty in 2017, 47 of these deaths were traffic related, while another 16 were due to illness entirely unrelated to the job.
According to a report from USA Today:
While shootings played a big role, traffic accidents caused the largest number of deaths. Crashes killed 47 officers this year, down 15% from 2016. A number of factors — including enhanced policies that limit vehicle pursuits and speeding and the “move-over law,” which requires drivers to slow down and switch lanes when an officer is pulled over — could be behind the drop, experts say.
Across the U.S., ambush-style attacks killed eight officers in 2017, a decrease from a jarring 21 such deaths in 2016. The largest number of fatal shootings this year occurred while officers responded to domestic disturbances.
Randy Sutton, a former police lieutenant and spokesman for Blue Lives Matter, an advocacy group that supports law enforcement, said multiple reasons likely led to the drop in killings, including a change in how officers approach arrests because of the controversial high-profile shootings in recent years. Officers don’t put themselves in dangerous situations as often, he said.
“There’s a saying in law enforcement: You can’t get in trouble for the car stop you don’t make,” he said. “They don’t want to be the next Ferguson, the next officer burned on the stake.”
Within the words of Sutton is a beautiful admission. When police choose not to engage in fishing expeditions and don’t make unnecessary stops, they have a lesser likelihood of things going dangerously awry – for both the officer and the unfortunate citizens they come into contact with.
Ironically, Floyd said there have been significant improvements in de-escalation training, which seems odd given the 1,000-plus people killed by cops the past four years running. One would reasonably assume that improved de-escalation training would result in fewer citizens being killed by police, not near record numbers yearly.
Floyd presciently noted that there has been a continual downward shift in the number of officers killed going all the way back to the late 1970s — which negates the oft-repeated “war on cops” mantra espoused by the thin blue line.
“In my 33 years doing this, I’ve never seen the amount of awareness given to officer safety and wellness,” he said. “That’s definitely been paying off and will continue to help make law enforcement a significantly safer profession.”
So, while inordinate attention is given to officer safety – resulting in the safest time to be a cop in nearly the past five decades – the same cannot be said of the citizenry that comes into contact with the police.
When 44 cops are shot and killed in a year, while in the same period a whopping 1177 Americans are killed by cops, perhaps it’s time to focus on de-escalation techniques that not only save officer lives, but also the lives of the public they are allegedly sworn to protect and serve.
There is clearly no war on cops — but is sure looks there is a war on the American people.