Civilian and Police Homicide Rates Roughly Comparable


Police Badges Mourning

The Examiner is citing the Twitter curation site Twitchy regarding reports on three alleged attempts at assassinating police officers in the past 24 hours. In addition, Reuters has posted an article with the alarming headline, "Gun deaths for U.S. officers rose by 56 percent in 2014." From Reuters:

Gun related deaths of U.S. law enforcement officers rose by 56 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year, with about one-third of officers killed in an ambush, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said on Tuesday.

Across the country, 50 officers were killed by guns in 2014 compared to 32 in 2013, according to the website of the non-profit fund, which aims to increase safety for law enforcement officers.

The most deadly states were California, Texas, New York, Florida and Georgia, the group said.

"Fifteen officers were shot and killed in ambush, more than any other circumstance of fatal shootings in 2014," the website said.

Let's do some rough calculations to give the Reuters headline a bit of context. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) notes that there are 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States—a record number. The NLEOMF notes that two of the gunfire deaths were accidental. So the death of 48 officers yields a homicide rate of about 5.3 per 100,000. The FBI reports that the overall 2013 (latest figures) homicide rate was 4.6 per 100,000 Americans. In 2013, excluding two accidental deaths, the homicide rate for police was about 3.3 per 100,000 officers.

In 2011, the 68 officers died from gunfire in the line of duty, so the rate that year was roughly 7.5 per 100,000.

It should go without saying, but here goes anyway: Murder is wrong, period. Everyone who has lost friends and family to this most heinous of crimes deserves our sympathy.

NEXT: 2014 Was a Lousy Year for Obama at the Supreme Court

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How many people were killed by cops this year and how does that compare with previous years?

    1. Last I checked it was close to a thousand. So they’re WINNING 20 to 1.

      1. s: From USA Today in November: The number of felony suspects fatally shot by police last year ? 461? was the most in two decades, according to a new FBI report.

        1. That number was based upon voluntary reporting by police departments, many of which choose not to participate. There was another source that said the true number was closer to a thousand. I learned that right here on Reason, though I don’t have the initiative to go find the article.

      2. s: The USA Today graphic indicates that it’s been bouncing between 300 and 400 justifiable homicides per year since 1991.

        1. Like I said above, that number is based upon police voluntarily reporting numbers to the FBI. Many departments do not participate.

          1. s: Perhaps this post from my colleague Scott Shackford will help.

            1. SF beat you to it, and he didn’t even SF the link!
              (thanks though)

        2. Killed by Police had listed more than 1,450 deaths caused by law-enforcement officers since its launch, on May 1, 2013, through Sunday. That works out to about three per day, or 1,100 a year.


          1. “The creator of the page does not seek to determine whether police killings are justifiable; each post “merely documents the occurrence of a death.”

            In their random sample, 85% of cop shooting was in the line of duty. 7% was cops shooting others while off duty.

  2. Fifteen officers were shot and killed in ambush,

    I’d be curious to see how they define “ambush”.

    1. “Psst…yoo-hoo! Free donuts!”

      1. That’s not an ambush, that’s entrapment.

  3. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has some interesting guys on its wall


    “Rank: Deputy Marshal
    Panel: 49-W: 1
    Department: U.S. Marshals Service
    End of Watch: May 26, 1854
    Cause: Gunfire
    Age: Unk
    Years of Service: Unk

    “Description: Civil disorder. Shot by disorderly crowd that was attempting to rush the court house in order to free a fugitive slave that was being held.”


    And don’t forget this Reason classic:

    “Department of Justice Honors Slave Catchers for Their Service to the Law”


    1. http://www.odmp.org/officer/re…..rd-gorsuch

      My third-cousin, Edward Gorsuch, has recently been maligned on the TV series sponsored by Ancestry.com. In his time, he acted according to the laws and customs of our country and served to enforce the law. His service overshadows the revisionist history sophmores who attempt to make money via sensationalism. They honor the law-breakers and throw mud on the law-enforcement officer who died in the line of duty.


      Deputy Marshal James Batchelder:

      To have faced a mob as a law officer, especially in the days of only the gun and the badge – and little else, is the very core of bravery no matter the circumstances.

      To have taken a bullet in the name of the law deems one a hero among heros. Long live such bravery and honor.

      To Deputy Marshal James Batcheler I a proud to render a final salute.

      Cpl. Ralph D. Fiorenza (Ret.)
      Pennylvania State Police
      December 26, 2009

      1. And Gorsuch wasn’t even a professional lawman, he was a slaveowner who was deputized specifically so he could try and recapture one of his own slaves who had fled from him.

        1. Batchelder was a part-time marshal whose day job was “truckman.” I don’t know what a truckman is, but I think it’s some kind of small merchant.

          He should have kept on trucking.

          1. Here we go:

            n. 1. One who does business in the way of barter or exchange.
            2. One who drives a truck, or whose business is the conveyance of goods on trucks.”


            1. He was likely a fireman.

        2. Mr. Gorsuch,
          It has taken over 158 years, but you are finally being honored. I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country.


          March 17, 2010

          That anyone could write such a thing without suck starting their service pistol is amazing.

      2. Yeah, I think that the “law breakers” who were trying to help slaves escape from bondage deserve the honor they get.

  4. It’s not murder when you’re at war, right? Most cops are bigger hypocrites even than politicians. When they murder innocent civilians it’s collateral damage. When people murder them they call it what it is.

  5. Sadly, because our criminal justice system is thoroughly broken when it comes to crimes committed by cops, we’ll never know what the rate homicide (broadly defined as wrongful killing) rate by cops was for these years.

    Since the cop-industrial complex prevents even the reporting of killings (justified or not) by cops in any meaningful way, its hard to even get a handle on how the rate of killings by cops compares to killings by real people civilians serfs.

    Based on the crap numbers we have, though, it looks like 1,000 killings by 900,000 cops, or a rate of .11%. The CDC tells me we had 16,238 homicides last year(?), out of a population of, call it, 350mm, or a rate of .0046%. There’s all kinds of comparability problems with this data, I know, but that sure looks to me like a couple orders of magnitude difference, there.

    Put another way: 6% of the killings in the US were committed by .25% of the population. Or, a cop is 24x more likely to kill you than a real person civilian serf.

    Just raw, poorly gathered, questionably compared data. Kinda interesting, though.

    1. Gee let’s think.. the average citizen has 0.00001% likelihood of being called to a scene where someone is shooting others, resisting arrest, kidnapping, stealing or anything that would cause a cop to shoot them.

      So, yes, police are vastly more likely to be in situation that require them to shoot people who do things that justify them being shot because, well… THAT’S WHAT COPS ARE THERE FOR!

  6. my neighbor’s half-sister makes $74 every hour on the internet . She has been without work for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $18600 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit the site….

  7. If the police are putting their lives on the line everyday, as they like to claim, shouldn’t they be ecstatic that so few of them are killed each year? Whether it’s 50 or 100, that’s a pretty astonishingly low number for people who take on such heroic risks so frequently.

    1. It’s lower than troop deaths, and the police love to talk as if they are “on the front lines” in a “battlefield.” So the cops are WINNING this war! BOOYAH

      1. Logical Fallacy. Typical of Reasonoids.

    2. Thank all the brave people dying so we can have lumber, fish, electricity, and garbage collection first.

  8. Murder is wrong… Unless you are really mad at someone, or if someone is high on pot, or if they stopped paying their taxes, or if they live next door to a seller of drugs, or if you are skeptical about global warming, or if you are a white anglo-Saxon cis-gender male, or if you are a CEO who makes any kind of a profit, or if you refuse to join a union, or if you….

    1. I’m confused. It’s OK for AGW skeptics white cis-shitlords, CEOs and scabs to murder people?

      1. No, it’s ok to murder them, they don’t count as human… Poorly written sarcasm backfires..

        1. The switch from “they” to “you” halfway kind of killed it.

          1. Yeah… Sarcasm failures are particularly bad when the topic is murder…

    2. “anglo-Saxon”

      Is there a reason the anglo isn’t capitalized but the Saxon is?

      1. Yes.

        I forgot to capitalize it and didn’t feel like correcting it…

  9. I normally love Reason, but this is misleading for two reasons.

    1) Police officers are generally middle class or working class. I’m sure the homicide rate is much lower amongst the middle and working classes than amongst the population at large.

    2). This is the big one. Bailey compared deaths by gunfire for police to murder and non-negligent manslaughter by all methods for the population at large. According to the website below, less than half of all “line of duty” deaths for police offices were caused by gunfire. Now I don’t know that the non-gunfire deaths were all murder or non-negligent homicide, but you can bet at least a few of them (Assault: 2 death, Vehicular assault: 10 deaths) were.

    I’m not justifying police brutality. I think there’s a big problem with police officers abusing their power. That said, narrative should never trump facts.


  10. This article only seems to count officers killed by guns. Police are also killed by other means, such as knives, cars, blunt instruments, etc. How many police were victims of homicide in the line of duty?

    1. JEM &h#: Most others died in traffic accidents. The 2013 report notes that 2 died of stabbing and 1 from an explosive device. Those numbers would not significantly change the roughly calculated homicide rates in the post.

  11. Considering police officers are in a dangerous line of work — where legitimate threats to their lives are something they do face regularly — having a homicide rate of roughly the same as the general population is kind of amazing.

    1. Considering police officers are in a dangerous line of work

      Well, a somewhat dangerous line of work. I think its toward the bottom of the top ten.

      where legitimate threats to their lives are something they do face regularly

      Uhh, no. Many cops have desk jobs. Many cops go through their entire careers without ever have a threat to their life.

      1. I think its toward the bottom of the top ten.

        Nope. Didn’t even make the list.


      2. You can say the same about the Military. Roughly 1 in 7 actually saw combat in WW2.

        So how often do you face a crazy person that may be intent on killing you? Fool.

  12. All lives matter! But I shouldn’t say that, because black people will make me apologize, and so will cops.

  13. Are you saying that all persons killed by police are innocent victims? All police killed are oppressors? Do you hear voices all the time, or only when you forget your meds?

    What is the murder rate among citizens who have never committed a crime? The vast majority of killings are criminals killed by other criminals, by private citzens, or by police. The murder rate among “civilians” is skewed by the very high rate among criminals, and cannot be compared to the murder rate among police officers.

    1. I’d guess that most people killed by police had it coming. But there are enough innocents killed to get outraged over. And I include among the innocents people who are just defending themselves against violent raids to enforce laws against victimless crimes. As long as we have those laws on the books, most police are in fact oppressors (not that that justifies killing them not in self defense).

      It is a good observation that should be made more often that most murders (especially involving guns) are criminals killing other criminals.
      But as police spend more time around criminals than your typical citizen, I would expect their murder rate to be closer to that of the criminals than that of the general population.

      1. Well, the cops are mostly there because of prohibited drugs, which are often associated with the murders. If you legalize the drugs, you reduce the police presence. However, the fact is most drug dealers I’ve met aren’t that violent, and most people who do get arrested with drugs are arrested because of possession, not because they were murderous or violent.

        1. Logical Fallacy. You want to cite a reference on that fantasy?

    2. Are you saying that all persons killed by police are innocent victims?

      Nope. Nobody is saying that.

      All police killed are oppressors?

      Depends on whether you think threatening people with (legal) assault, kidnapping, and death for minor and/or victimless crimes counts as “oppression”.

      Do you hear voices all the time,

      No. Do you? Because you seem to be hearing someone arguing that all persons killed by police are innocent victims, and nobody is saying that so anyone else can hear it.

  14. my friend’s ex-wife makes $70 an hour on the laptop . She has been out of work for ten months but last month her pay was $14737 just working on the laptop for a few hours. read this…


  15. This is amazing! With all the scams online it was hard to find a legit system now a days, thanks for the info help this site… http://www.MoneyKin.Com

    1. Can I earn enough to buy a Ford Focus?

  16. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did
    ?????? http://www.paygazette.com

  17. Thank you for trivializing the deaths of police officers in the line of duty. This is what I have come to expect in the pages of Reason.

    1. Thank you for trivializing the murder of non-cops. This is what I have come to expect from cop-fellators.

      1. You are seriously deranged. Get help before you hurt yourself or someone else.

    2. FP: Honestly confused – Reporting this data is in what way trivial?

      1. Not putting cops on a pedestal equals trivializing them.

  18. Since no one else has said it yet.

    Police are civilians

    1. DS: Correct. On the other hand, distinguishing between sworn law enforcement officers and the rest of us is often used colloquially.

      1. But, that is one of the factors that creates the dilemma in the first place.

        The uniform, badge and lowering everyone not similarly equipped to “civilian” is the prelude to militarization. It’s no different than the various pejorative terms that the military uses when describing “the enemy”. It’s a lot easier to kill another human being when one uses dehumanizing terms to refer to them.

        1. I think the real problem is separating the police into a class with a different moral ethic. For example, if a shop owner escalated force on Eric Garner until he either stopped selling loosies and left or Garner laid dead in an ambulance, the shop owner would absolutely be tried for murder, or at least assault, however, it’s legal and even defended as ethical for a police officer to escalate force on any other citizen until that citizen complies with the officer’s order, no matter what the “crime” the citizen has or has not committed. “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

  19. before I looked at the check of $5261 , I didnt believe that…my… neighbour could truley taking home money in their spare time at there computar. . there aunts neighbour has done this 4 only and just cleared the dept on their mini mansion and bourt Honda . site link….
    ?????? http://www.paygazette.com

  20. The NYPD are now making less arrests and issuing less citations, in part to protest De Blasio.


    I believe cops shouldn’t be writing tickets or responding to complaints about noise and such. The city should have separate on field (unarmed) staff doing that stuff. I’m down with using drones in certain situations to verify

    I heard wonderful things about New York, especially their abundant parking and personal space and friendly people. A very clean place, I hear. Surely, New York doesn’t need anyone stopping vagrants from pissing on their streets and parking in non parking spaces.

  21. Ah the good ole “Reason” anti cop circle jerk continues, with this an almost pointless article. Well off to mother jones to see what my once favorite website will be like in the future.

    1. Take it with a grain of salt.

      Yes, some commenters are completely anti cop a la the 1960’s “pig” references. But the majority are simply concerned with our society having put on rose colored glasses when speaking of LEOs and accepting anything they say or do as being acceptable. Certainly the Reason editors fit that profile of concern.

      The LEO industry has risen to the task of being judge, jury and executioner while expanding broadly. Right along with their firefighting brethren. At least here on the left coast. It is just another tribe to identify oneself with. No different than the various ethnic tribal identities tossed about regularly. “Hey, I’m a cop. That makes me special”.

      “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” ? George Orwell, Animal Farm

      The police have a job to do and we set the rules for how they do it. If we can put the “police” back in policing we’ll all be better off.

      When the need for an armed response arises, it should be within the rule of Posse Comitatus and not involve quasi-military folks wearing blue uniforms with local insignias.

  22. I didn’t believe …that…my friends brother woz like realie bringing in money part time from there new laptop. . there uncles cousin haz done this less than twenty months and by now paid the mortgage on their house and got a great new Lancia Straton .
    see this site :::::—– http://www.jobsfish.com

  23. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for 74 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail
    ———– http://www.paygazette.com

  24. my neighbor’s ex-wife makes $68 /hour on the internet . She has been fired from work for eight months but last month her paycheck was $16325 just working on the internet for a few hours. check out this site…


  25. I Got Hooked On Having An Online Business Almost A Decade Ago When I Created An Online Course And Made My First.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.