In 2018, 55 U.S. Law Enforcement Officers Were Killed by Attackers

In contrast, police killed nearly 1,000 people last year.


More police officers were killed by attackers in 2018 than in 2017, but it's still, fortunately, a very rare occurrence according to FBI statistics released this week.

In all, 106 law enforcement officers were killed during the line of duty last year. Of those, 55 were killed by felonious attacks, and 51 died a result of accidents. In 2017, 46 officers were killed in attacks, and 47 died in accidents.

It's still, nevertheless, a decline in the number of police officers killed in 2016, so this might not be a harbinger of some increasingly dangerous environment for police. Police officers are far less likely to die on the job than people in any number of other fields, like truck drivers or roofers.

Still, no need to be disingenuous about it: When police officers are killed, it's more likely due to being attacked by another person than those in other jobs. So it's valuable for police to explore the circumstances of how those officers were killed to track down trends and see if there are ways to make the job safer. Particularly we don't want police to resort to "warrior" training that encourages them to see all interactions with citizens as threats to their lives and respond with twitchy trigger fingers. Nearly 1,000 people were shot and killed by police in 2018. Police are more likely to kill us than we are to kill them.

Summaries of all the incidents where officers were killed by attacks can be found here. About half the officers were killed in Southern states. An equal number of officers (seven) were killed in large cities as in small cities with populations of less than 25,000 people. Most of the killings took place during "investigative or enforcement activities," a broad category involving anything from shoot-outs with people who are wanted for crimes to violence during a traffic stop. Drill down into those numbers, though, and note that only two officers were killed while conducting a traffic stop. In other categories, only two officers were killed responding to calls about disorders or disturbances. These are categories where police officers have gotten criticism for quickly turning to deadly force in their responses. Police say they felt that they believed they were in danger, but the data doesn't back up the idea that these calls are as or more dangerous than responding to violent crimes.

Last year, 11 officers were killed in ambushes. Three of these deaths happened when officers were responding to disturbance calls that turned out to be set-ups.

The FBI doesn't yet have statistics for how many police officers were assaulted last year—a figure that can actually give us a better sense of how much actual violence police face on the job. We'll get those numbers in the fall. But overall, the trend for violence directed toward police officers seems to be in a fluctuating but stable place that does not indicate that police should be walking around in constant fear.

In addition, early data for 2019 shows these numbers declining when compared to 2018. So far only 14 officers have been killed in attacks so far this year, compared to 26 at this same time last year. Police officers do face risks that people in other lines of work do not, but the data really do not support the tendency for some police officers to see danger everywhere and rush to violent reactions.

Read more here.

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  1. “In contrast, police killed nearly 1,000 people last year.”

    That’s because cops are racists who terrorize communities of color and put bullets in black bodies even when they’re in the HANDS UP DON’T SHOOT position.


    1. “Police release footage after shooting on unarmed black couple in Connecticut”
      Ooops someone was late turning on the body cam. More training, amirite?

      1. Had trouble posting entire link. From April 26, 2019

        Such police transparency.

  2. Commercial Fishermen
    Construction Workers
    Dock Workers
    Police officers do face risks that people in other lines of work do not

    Do the job or find another one.

  3. Cops are less likely to be killed in the line of duty if they practice the pre-emptive defense strategy of showing up on the scene and shooting anything that moves. “Shoot first” is a good policy if officer safety is of paramount importance.

  4. Most people killed by police probably had it coming. Like if OB were caught in the middle of raping a toddler, or Pedo Jeffy was holding a preteen down so an illegal could sodomize the child. Those would be justifiable use of deadly force.

    1. Maybe the toddler or child had it coming, dressing provocatively or hanging about in seedy areas.

  5. “It’s still, nevertheless, a decline in the number of police officers killed in 2016, ”

    I wonder if we can attribute this in any way to the proliferation of “safe spaces,” areas which black activists, unusually on college campuses, have declared that a police presence is no longer welcome.

    1. It’s just noise. The rate of such an extremely rare event isn’t very meaningful.

      1. I agree. What’s more meaningful is how much we talk about such events and how much of our attention they draw. The fact that black activists are essentially declaring the police to be their enemy is probably going to have a greater impact on society than a small change in the number of attacks.

        1. That was the pivotal moment…. first “shot for wearing a hoodie because he went for skittles and tea”, then “hands up, don’t shoot”.

          Criminal justice reform had significant momentum. Balko was becoming a fixture on cable with his book as the issue moved toward the top of the heap.

          Then #BLM decided that the real problem was that police are racist. And that was the end of all progress.

          Because if you are a police officer, or a police chief, and the objection to your department is “the people are racists”, you aren’t going to have much time for that complaint. Because you know the people around you. And you know that it is mostly not true.

          Plus, even if it were true…. then what? We are going to go around and “un-racist” people? The #BLM types seem to believe that racism is like original sin, it is in the heart of all men… particularly all white men. So then what? Good job #BLM, you’ve framed the question in a way that is unresolvable. So thanks for that.

          Before, it was a question of training, tactics, awareness, etc. But now? It is only a problem if a white cop shoots a black man… preferably a black man who was actually doing something that might result in getting shot – but that isn’t initially reported. That way we can stir up maximum outrage.

          I blame everyone involved – the #BLM folks and the think-tank people behind it, the press who were willing accomplices and the government, particularly the Obama administration and Eric Holder, who softly played both sides, resulting in further rancor.

          1. Criminal justice reform had significant momentum.

            It still seems to have momentum with Trump and Kushner leading the charge. Seen a lot from this admin early on. And I have seen on the state level more reforms to civil asset forfeiture laws. And we just got the Timbs decision. Time will tell but the momentum is back perhaps that’s because BLM is kinda of quiet compared to what it was and hopefully those activists are changing strategy or moving to organizations that are serious about reforms.

            1. CJR is ostensibly a bipartisan priority of the US House of Representatives.

              Guess which turtle-esque glob of nihilism in the Senate won’t let it become law?

            2. Yeah, Trump really took the wind out of their sails by agreeing with them and actually doing something.

              NBC covered Kim Kardashian’s work on the topic this morning. It really stuck in their craw to have to mention Trump positively in the article. They almost had the “insert name here” voice when they mentioned Trump and the criminal justice reform bill.

          2. We got a dumb bitch here in Pittsburgh filing a civil rights suit against a small town because a cop kicked her out of a movie theater and then arrested her. Was the cop right, no…. But here’s the kicker, the real juice.

            What led said dumb bitch into a confrontation with this cop? He was kicking out two mid size groups of African American females that had caused a large disturbance and fight with with each other at the theater, and dumb bitch overheard him say to the girls “you’re all acting like animals”. So immediately her race-bait bell goes off and she has to get in the cops face with a camera. Because he called a bunch of black teenagers acting like animals, animals.

            1. By the way…said dumb bitch claims her occupation is “artist and community organizer”. Aka unemployed sjw

              1. “Aka unemployed sjw”

                That’s no crime. Police should confine themselves to their duties. When they stray from them, it is reasonable to hold them to account for their actions.

            2. Why did the cop arrest the dumb bitch? It seems the two mid size groups of African American females were causing all the trouble. What crime had the dumb bitch committed to warrant her arrest? If there was no crime, her suit may be justified.

          3. “It is only a problem if a white cop shoots a black man…”

            Why is it not a problem if a white man is shot down in the street under dubious circumstances? What the heck is wrong with American whites that they are willing to let such incidents go without a single one of them taking to the streets to protest? Where is their sense of justice? The only protests coming from whites is over the blacks who protest when one of their brothers are gunned down.

            “Criminal justice reform had significant momentum.”

            This may be true, but the issue according to black activists is police behaviour. ie they are trigger happy when confronted with black people.

      2. It can be meaningful, but with the long term average so low, anything less than a doubling year over year is likely insignificant.

        1. There’s statistical significance and plain old significance. An extra meteor strike may not interest the statisticians, but it can still have a significant impact on society. We shouldn’t confuse the two senses of the word.

  6. That’s a pretty disingenuous representation of the statistics. The statistics state that police killed more people nominally. It does not mention anything about likelihood of killing you or being killed. To address that subject, you would have to look much deeper than just the number of deaths. You would also need to consider how often officers engage in life-threatening actions. Remember, just because the police only killed 1,000 people doesn’t mean they couldn’t have killed more. We don’t know how many other near-death instances there were. To properly address how “likely” an officer is to kill you, I would recommend a function that takes into account the lethality of officers’ weapons, their training levels in terms of ability to kill, and the number of situations that can quickly escalate into a death. In all likelihood, 1,000 dead is understating just how likely an officer is to kill you.

    Also, the comparisons in this article were not adjusted for population.

    1. In addition to your points, the big one is “1,000 killed by police” is a raw number.

      The real number you are looking for is the number that were killed who were not a particular threat at that moment. Usually the number is upwards of 400 who are unarmed. And among the “armed”, there are at least some who were “armed” in the sense that there was a gun in the car, or they had a gun in their pocket, rather than the “they attempted to shoot a police officer” way that “armed” tends to imply.

      1. Exactly. These are the sort of nuances that are extremely important in the realm of statistical analysis and the common disregard for these nuances in search of an attention grabbing headline is the reason why we have sayings like “there are liars, damned liars and statisticians.”

  7. “Particularly we don’t want police to resort to “warrior” training that encourages them to see all interactions with citizens as threats to their lives and respond with twitchy trigger fingers.”

    FFS Too late as that ship has sailed. So much so that the excuses are down pat and most here would be able to provide the standard list of them for Them.

    “More police officers were killed by attackers in 2018 than in 2017, but it’s still, FORTUNATELY, a very rare occurrence according to FBI statistics released this week.

    Fortunately? Is copsucking obligatory and, if so, what is the motivation for it? Fear and/or pandering by a kinder, gentler libertarian?

    Remember kids, it’s a comply or die world with small tolerances for obedience when officer friendly is around. It might just save your life unless, you know, roid rage, adrenaline, PTSD, personality disorder, conflicting commands, getting home to the family, wrong apartment and so on get in the way.

    1. There’s something wrong with folks who would object to the “fortunately” it is rare that police are killed by attackers. No decent person wants police to be killed by attackers in huge numbers. Even if you are a sociopath with a particular bug up your butt about police, your self-protection instincts should kick in when you realize that a world where police really are running around in justified fear for their lives is a bad thing for you. As in “makes you way more likely to be shot” type of bad.

      People shouldn’t be shooting police in the back of the head while they sit there in their cruiser gnawing on a bagel, just like police shouldn’t be shooting some kid playing with a squirt gun in the park.

      That really shouldn’t be controversial…. or even a difficult position to arrive at.

      1. Great qualification there with “in huge numbers” Should I infer that your obviously fine with acceptable numbers from your moral high horse.

        If it is as you said then it is a superfluous word not worthy of using unless it serves some other purpose. Is it simply a reminder?

        “your self-protection instincts should kick in when you realize that a world where police really are running around in justified fear for their lives is a bad thing for you. ”

        No kidding. Your use of “Justified” is an irrelevant qualifier here as a practical matter because what matter here is only what Them’s state of mind is. Many would argue that their state of mind is already fear for their lives regardless of justification. Justification gets made up later as needed. That is what this is all about. There is no begrudging a righteous shoot. However, way too much deference is given to the servants at the masters’ expense.

        So, enough with your attempt at moral superiority.

        1. Just to be clear. Servants are the cops and masters are the citizens. Some have trouble with that concept.

      2. “No decent person wants police to be killed by attackers”

        The people commenting here aren’t decent people.

        1. Neither are murderers, but that never stops the cops.

  8. “30,000 Decertified Officers

    To kick off this effort, we’re releasing a database of the most cut-and-dried cases of troubled cops—30,000 officers from 44 states who were decertified by state oversight agencies. Decertification essentially bans those officers from carrying a badge anywhere in the state.”

    https://www.blacklistednews.com /article/72543 /search-the-list-of-more- than-30000-police-officers-banned-by-44.html

    Does 30,000 qualify as a few as in a few bad apples?

    1. And think about how hard it is for them to get any sort of discipline, let alone that draconian of a punishment. There are about a million cops at any given moment, so I’m not sure that 30k over some significant number of years is a really big number, but in the context of being a serial rapist while on the job often not being a fireable offense, maybe it is bigger than it seems.

      I mean, there’s guys who flat-out murdered people on video tape and didn’t even get an unpaid suspension.

      Here’s what I know from a buddy’s stint in internal affairs: The things that get you in trouble as an officer aren’t usually citizen complaints. They look in to those, but the hammer doesn’t usually fall, no matter how terrible the actions.

      But do something that reflects bad on the department or comes under the heading of leaving the guys hanging? That is taken seriously. My buddy had a case with a guy who was having an affair while on duty – he’d claim to be doing one thing but he’d go to his girlfriends apartment and get high with her and have sex.. for a couple of hours on the clock. So they put the full court press on him and got him not only for claiming to be working when he wasn’t, but also for several drug charges. They did a full undercover deal with a half-dozen officers on the investigation. (in the normal business world you’d just fire the guy as soon as you found out he wasn’t doing his work while on the clock…. but apparently that’s not so easy in cop-world)

      Another case was a guy who was stealing from drug dealers and fences. They put full surveilance on him, tailing him for a couple of weeks. Again, about a half-dozen officers involved, lots of overtime. They finally arrested him when he was transporting drugs, cash and stolen goods. So maybe that was a reasonable use of resources…. but again, if your delivery driver is stealing packages, you probably just fire the guy and maybe file a police report.

      Because of the unions and the nature of “the thin blue line”, it is really tough for them to just fire bad cops (where bad is the broader definition of “not a good employee”). So they have to do a full criminal investigation just to get rid of a bad employee.

      That’s a really dumb way to run an organization.

  9. 55 killed in 2018
    A sheriff friend on FB says 155 while cnn says 144. It would be nice to have real numbers and again I don’t trust Reason’s numbers either

    1. FBI. Not Reason.

      Bigger numbers usually include traffic accidents and even “heart attack” while on duty type situations.

      Suicide is also a big killer of police, so they might be including that.

      1. According to Police One, more police died from suicide than in the line of duty in 2018. That number was 159.

        So “died in the line of duty” is not the same thing as “killed by attacker”. Car accident is going to be the big one. And you have other random nonsense, possibly including heart attack while effecting arrest. And according to the FBI numbers, killed by assailant is going to come in around about 50. Which is down from about 75-ish 8 or 10 years ago. And double that a decade earlier, IIR.

        1. the list shown does include “responding to” and others etc which is not being killed by an attacker. Just pointing out that numbers don’t match and that you really can’t trust anyones numbers.

        2. Sort of how gun control enthusiasts always include suicides in their numbers (since about 2/3 of gun deaths are suicides.) Gotta make the numbers big.

          1. Always baffling that you guys think it should be automatically accepted that a high rate of suicide is not a social problem.

            (The rate is high because guns are efficient at killing, about which I’m sure you’ll agree.)

            1. What is the current suicide rate? You say it’s high, but in comparison to what? Historically? And what percentage of that supposedly high number of suicides were committed with guns? How many of those suicides would have been prevented if access to guns were restricted, contra the Bill of Rights?

              You should be able to answer my questions, given the air of expertise behind your post. (Or is that “air” just the aroma of typical pulled-from-your-ass Tony bullshit?)

            2. Also, as an undoubted “my body, my choice” slogan subscriber, why the fuck should you care one whit if someone decides to off themselves?

              1. If a pro choice female is pregnant with another female inside her…when does it become that little internal females “body and choice”?

                Inquiring minds want to know tony.

        3. “And you have other random nonsense, possibly including heart attack while effecting arrest.”

          They don’t even have to be “effecting arrest.” Where I live, we had some fat load of a cop have a heart attack while sitting in his patrol car, probably stuffing donuts into his face, but he was said to have “died in the line of duty.” No he didn’t. He died. Period. Things like this will throw the numbers way off when dealing with extremely small numbers such as these “died-in-the-line-of-duty” stats.

  10. Come on, more people probably got killed in publishing accidents.

    1. You’ve certainly got a point. In other news… Motor Vehicle Deaths in the U.S. Top 40,000 in 2017. I’m sure some vehicle accidents had some justifiable blame placed on other drivers but considering “the peoples” driving mistakes made 40x as many deaths; I’m just not seeing a huge alarm here without being alarmed about specific examples — Which there certainly are a few out there.

      1. I guess what really sucks and should be *alarming* is those few instances out there that often end up falling through the cracks of the justice department through the above-the-law “buddy” system.

  11. “So it’s valuable for police to explore the circumstances of how those officers were killed to track down trends and see if there are ways to make the job safer.”

    Personally, I would like to see an honest evaluation of how many of those deaths are or might be the result of friendly fire, particularly in dynamic entry events.

    I remember one story where the cops raided a home looking for the adult son of the elderly home owner. The owner was about to open the front door when the police breached it.

    Now, the owner did have a shotgun. His son was a gang banger and was in hiding because of threats from a rival gang. The home owner says he dropped the shotgun immediately when he saw it was the cops.

    The home owner was shot, and the officer who breached the door was shot and killed, but here’s the important point, the officer who died was shot in the back of the head.

    Now, I’m thinking while the officer who breaches the door wouldn’t necessarily be the first to enter, it would be absolutely idiotic for him to turn his back on the just breached door, step to the side maybe, but I can’t buy him turning his back to the door. I think at least two officers open fire on seeing the shot gun. One hit the home owner, and one hit the officer who breached the door in the back of the head.

  12. I’d lay odds more than half the cops killed were ordered by looter party politicians to coerce people at gunpoint over plant leaves, but that information is missing from the Thought Police report. Then there’s the couple in Houston ambushed and murdered (along with many others) over lying allegations of possible maybe plant leaves. Who’s the blame the peeps for retaliating with traps and confidential informants of their own? Meanwhile the looter politicians, communist and fascist alike, feign horror at the results of their own initiation of deadly force while struggling to keep Libertarian candidates off the ballot.

    1. Warrants over drugs are a big one.

      So is “encounter with mentally ill person”. As in, relative calls 911 because person is in need of help in an urgent way… cops come instead of trained medical personnel with ambulance…. cops draw guns on suicidal, mentally ill person and start screaming commands at him in a moment when he’s barely holding on to reality — and after a brief moment of tension, they shoot him down. Then they scream at his corpse for a while, hoping to get it to “show me your hands”.

  13. Is the position here that cops are more violent than their suspects? I question the veracity of the statistics even though I’ll readily believe more cops shoot people than are shot. This makes sense because nearly 100% of cops carry guns and suspects aren’t going to be armed at the same rate. Further, how much of the discrepancy can be attributed to officers wearing body armor?
    I’m not going to disagree that it is worrying to see officers killing citizens that often. Still, it would be interesting if statistics could be broken down further to who initiated violence or the threat of violence. Is another split in the statistics that officers trained in the use of firearms are more successful in hitting their targets than their suspects?

  14. 55 v. <1000?
    Apples and oranges – there are many more law breakers (by orders of magnitude) than cops.

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