Don't Let Headlines Mislead You: Murders, Assaults of Police Officers Actually Below Average

There is no evidence that police are being targeted more than they've been in the past.


Not a target.
Credit: Rachel Donahue | Dreamstime.com

Here's how NBC has headlined its story on the latest FBI stats for police officers killed in the line of duty in 2014: "Law Enforcement Officer Killings Nearly Double in 2014 After Few Slain in 2013: FBI." Some other headlines: "FBI Data Shows Sharp Increase in Number of Officers Killed on Duty"; "Number of Police Officers Murdered in US Last Year Nearly Double Amount of 2013, FBI Statistics Show."

The headlines are completely accurate, yet still manage to be misleading. Give NBC reporter Elisha Fieldstadt some credit, though; the story itself makes the full facts clear further in. There were 51 police killed as a result of felonious attacks (as opposed to 45 deaths attributed to accidents) in 2014. There were only 27 officers killed by violence in 2013.

Here's the thing, though: It's peaceful 2013 that's the anomaly. Not only is 2014's rate of officer deaths closer to the average, it's actually still down. The five-year average for annual police killings is 56. The 10-year average is 55. There were fewer police officers killed in 2014 than average.

These numbers are actually evidence that the police aren't in any more danger than they have been in the past and that they're not being targeted more due to outrage over media coverage of police-involved killings. Deaths may be up over 2013, but actually assaults against police officers are down. There were 48,315 police assaults in 2014; that's 1,500 fewer police assaults than in 2013. And that's actually 4,500 fewer police assaults than were reported in 2012.

In fact, on the Officer Down Memorial Page, which keeps track of police deaths as they're reported, they're actually showing a drop again in police deaths by gun violence in 2015 so far compared to this time last year (though there's an increase in auto-related deaths, and overall line-of-duty deaths are up slightly).

Instead of insisting officer are victims of some new burst of anti-police violence and pointing the finger at activists, they should be looking at why 2013 was such an unusually peaceful year for police and why assaults against police are actually going down, not up.

NEXT: Judge Agrees DOJ Harassment of Medical Marijuana Suppliers Is Illegal

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. WAR. ON. COPS.

    This is part of it, you know. I mean, if you deny the war on cops, you’re denying cops the right to shoot first and ask questions later without consequence, and DENYING THEM THE RIGHT TO GO HOME SAFELY TO THEIR FAMILIES AT NIGHT. WHY DON’T YOU WANT COPS TO GO HOME SAFELY TO THEIR FAMILIES AT NIGHT, SHACKFORD?


        1. *miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss


          miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss*

          1. They couldn’t have all been misses. Several of those shots probably hit bystanders.

        2. Don’t taze me, bro!

  2. A while back someone wrote a sarcastic letter to the local paper (no, not me) asking the police to parade their military gear on holidays like the commies did during the Cold War. You know, so kids can run along and give flowers to the soldiers and stuff.

    The mayor responded with a very harsh letter of his own talking about how the cops need armored vehicles and other military gear because of the war on cops. He said there are gangs with fully automatic weapons targeting cops and stuff. This was a couple years ago, before the BLM crap.

    So I looked up the statistics for that city’s police department. They’ve lost two officers in the last hundred years. One was shot in the 80s, while another died in a car accident in the 20s.

    Yeah. War on cops. Right.

    1. Sarc, hurt feelings are just as much a battle wound as any full jacketed slug fired from a fully auto assault weapon by a gang banger.

      So don’t cherry pick your fucking stats. How many of our heroes went home upset by the events of their work day? HUH?!!?

    2. Yeah. War on cops. Right.

      My wife had to get in contact with the local police department to set up a tour for a community group. They laid out for her when the shift changes were and said that they would have to schedule the tour around that. She got exasperated trying to send out the email with the available times to the rest of the group. When I asked “Why?” she said, “I can’t figure out how to get everyone to agree on a time without mentioning shift changes.” I asked, “Why don’t you mention the shift changes?” “Because, that’s when they’re vulnerable.” came the reply.

      I nearly hurt myself laughing.

      1. She watches too many movies.

        1. Or not enough. I would’ve thought, the fact that they handed the info to a relative stranger, the buildings freely accessible to the public that allow near 24/7 surveillance of the station, and the fact that you just don’t see armed militias looking to pick fights with the police in their home in this country might have tipped her off that the building isn’t exactly an FOB in hostile territory.

          She realized how silly she was being once I started laughing.

  3. Give NBC reporter Elisha Fieldstadt some credit, though; the story itself makes the full facts clear further in.

    Likely she didn’t write the headline. But, yeah, take traffic accidents out of the equation and policeman doesn’t make the top ten of most dangerous jobs.

    1. Even with traffic accidents, it’s not in the top 10. I don’t think it’s in the top 20.

  4. There is no evidence that police are being targeted more than they’ve been in the past.

    I was going to be an exceptional dick and say, “Too bad”. Instead I will simply say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

    1. Oh, also – this won’t go on forever. Fucking cops keep acting like they have been, and there WILL be a “war”. One they precipitate.

      Careful, boys

  5. Way to ruin the narrative, Shackford.

    1. Don’t be silly. The narrative is impervious to facts. I mean, it feels true. So it must be true.

      1. Shackford is just a big meanie, punching downwards on poor, underfunded, unappreciated public servants who have dedicated their lives to provide to and for their fellow citizens.

  6. Spot the Not: wacky superstitions from around the world

    1. Many in Japan believe your personality is determined by your blood type.

    2. Many in Brazil believe that putting your purse on the floor will cause you to lose money.

    3. Many Rwanda believe that women should not eat goat meat, as they believe it will cause them to grow beards.

    4. Many in Turkey believe that one should not chew gum at night, because the gum transforms into human flesh after dark.

    5. Many on the British island of Dorset believe that saying the word “rabbit” brings bad luck. Rabbits are called “underground mutton” instead.

    6. Many in Papua New Guinea believe in changing their names whenever someone dies. That way, if Death returns to the same village, it will get confused and leave.

    1. NOW I understand why the fascination with blood types in teh pr0n from Japan! So that’s true…hmmm…..

      Ima go with #4. Although it’s so goofy….

      1. Ima go with #4 too, primarily because gum is so relatively new.

    2. 6 is the Not, although it is based on a real superstition from a tribe in the Pacific Northwest.

      As for underground mutton, that comes from the fact that rabbits caused the deaths of quarry workers when their burrows caused loose piles of rocks to collapse.


      Perhaps they are the unholy offspring of the Beast of Caerbanogg?

    1. On why the hood (“bonnet”) doesn’t open: “The only time I ever open my bonnet is when I need to fill up with windscreen washer fluid,” says Tatiana Butovitsch Temm, YCC Communications Manager. “So we asked ourselves whether you should have to open the bonnet just to do that. We realised that it could just as easily be done from the side of the car.”


      1. Makes it harder to get the bee out, though.

      2. How the hell were mechanics supposed to work on the engine, even to change the oil or check the battery?

        1. Or how are the poor boyfriends and husbands supposed to jump it (the car, not the driver)?

          Although, I’m sure that Pep Boys will still find ways to talk my wife into expensive air filter changes.

    2. Sounds like most of the features mentioned are ones that are starting to become normal in higher end cars.

      Shit like gull wing doors and hoods that don’t open never make it out of the concept stage for normal cars.

    3. Did they name it the Volvo Vulva?

      1. Once a month all the oil spontaneously leaks from every interior surface.

        Seriously, I assume they gave up when they found out that what women really wanted was a man to drive it for them. Or Uber.

  7. The headlines are completely accurate, yet still manage to be misleading.

    So, IOW, journalist’s ethics are on par with politician’s?

  8. That guy in the photo is modeling jeans for the Sears catalog, right?

    1. It’s part of their new “Murderous Sociopath Collection.”

  9. I am pretty sure healthcare workers experience more assaults and violence on the job

  10. That time a Polish guy hand his hands burned and his tongue pulled out for saying god didn’t exist

  11. I’m still looking for the stats comparing targeted attacks on police vs attacks on police during arrest two very different things. Without the known targeted attacks, police killings might be even lower. for some reason you never give us that number which tells me you have bias. If their are not year to year numbers on attacks then tell us so otherwise everything you write is useless twaddle with no substance.

    1. The facts have an anti-cop bias.

    1. Go find a fucking AM Links thread.

      1. It’s already reached comment saturation.

        1. Who cares? Those threads are concentration camps where irrelevant bullshit goes to die. There’s always room for more.

  12. Fun with numbers!
    “Poverty up 500%!” (there were five people this year after we changed the reporting line)
    “Stock market shows huge increase under Obama!” (start with lowest point in decades)

  13. Something going on in Canada? Local newspapers are splooging themselves over something.

  14. they should be looking at why 2013 was such an unusually peaceful year for police and why assaults against police are actually going down, not up.

    I’d imagine it’s because people complied in 2013.

    1. If you had just shut up and done everything the cop orders you to under all circumstances whatsoever, they wouldnt’ have to shoot you! It’s not hard people. Respect my authoritah!

    2. they should be looking at why 2013 was such an unusually peaceful year for police and why assaults against police are actually going down, not up.

      The police adopted a preemptive strike philosophy?

  15. ODMP is the one that lists several “officers” who died trying to recover escaped slaves, right?

      1. Comment on the page:

        Mr. Gorsuch,
        Sir, on today the 164th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


        United States Border Patrol
        September 11, 2015

        1. 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.

          Civilian RV
          August 15, 2013

          1. In his time, he acted according to the laws and customs of our country and served to enforce the law

            You know who else acted according to the laws and customs and served to enforce the law?

            1. The stupider part of this is, if I remember my history correctly, he wasn’t even an officer. He was a Maryland slaveholder that got himself and a couple of other people deputized to go after a couple of slaves that had escaped off his land, which led to the confrontation in Pennsylvania where he was killed.

              1. I noticed the dude was like 57 years old.

  16. I like cross-dressers and fags. I’ve been fucked up many a night and danced on a rickety table under the moon to jitterbug shit in a bikini I stole from the wife’s lingerie cabinet… and received a sound ass-beating the next morning from her because I ruined a fucking fifty-buck lacy butterfly angel thingy.

    That being said, I think the vast majority of cops go to work in pink panties and goddamn bras because the motherfuckers are the most hysterical cunts of any profession with the whiniest cunt union of any profession.

    1. I’m speechless….

  17. I bought brand new BMW by working ONline work. Six month ago i hear from my friend that she is working some online job and making more then 98$/hr i can’t beleive. But when i start this job i have to beleived her
    Now i am also making 98$/hr if you want to try just check this out

    ————– http://www.HomeJobs90.Com

  18. What, pray tell is the best number or the lowest number we should be satisfied with.

  19. Given the behavior the police are using the WOCs meme to justify, perhaps people ought to start picking up the slack. #giveyousomethingtocryabout

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.