On Monday, the FBI released their annual report on law enforcement killings in 2014. The statistics reported by the FBI are broken down into officers feloniously killed, officers accidentally killed, officers assaulted, and federal officers killed and assaulted.
According to the report, 96 law enforcement officers were killed while performing their job. This was a 26 percent increase from 2013, which saw 76 law enforcement officers killed while on the job. Of the 96 officers that were killed in 2014, 51 of those deaths came as a result of a criminal committing a felony. This was an 88 percent increase from 2013, which saw 27 law enforcement officers killed under the same set of circumstances. No female law enforcement officers in 2014 were killed under these parameters. The number of law enforcement officers whose death was ruled accidental was down from 49 in 2013 to 45 in 2014, an eight percent decrease.
The FBI report showed that assault on law enforcement officers had a slight decrease of three percent. In 2013, 49,851 law enforcement officers were victims of assault in the line of duty. In 2014, 48,315 officers were assaulted.
The most recent law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty was Deputy Sheriff Steven Sandberg. Deputy Sandberg was killed on October 18, 2015. Deputy Sandberg responded to a call at St. Cloud hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Danny Leroy Hammond was a patient at the hospital receiving treatment. Deputy Sandberg was tasked with standing outside of the Hammond’s room and guarding him. Hammond was not under arrest at the time, but he was a person of interest in a current investigation. A struggle ensued between Hammond and Sandberg. During the struggle, Hammond was able to grab Sandberg’s gun and he shot the deputy multiple times. Another deputy used a Taser on Hammond in order to ensure that Hammond did not harm anyone else. Hammond died soon after he was tased. Life-saving efforts were used on Hammond, but they were unsuccessful. Officials claim that Hammond “experienced a medical emergency” after the Taser was used on him.
Assaults and murder of law enforcement officers have been in the spotlight in 2015. These types of crimes have been tied into the gun rights debate that is also been a high-profile debate this year. Many people feel that violence against law enforcement officers leading to their death is higher this year than in previous years. The statistics do not back up that statement. The Officer Down Memorial page keeps track of all law enforcement officers killed each year. The website statistics go back to the year 1791.
So far, in 2015, 100 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. Out of those 100, 30 law enforcement officers were killed as a result of gunfire, while 3 died due to an assault. At this point in 2014, 31 law enforcement officers were killed due to gunfire, and 10 were killed from an assault on them. Obviously, the year is not over yet, and the numbers from 2015 will be higher than they are now. The FBI report for 2015 will not be out until this time next year.
What have law enforcement officers been doing in order to be safer while performing their job? Many law enforcement officers are now either riding with another officer in their car, or waiting for another officer to arrive on a scene that has the potential to turn violent against them. Another option that law enforcement has turned to is body cameras. The idea behind the use of body cameras is twofold. One, the cameras work as proof in showing what happened during a specific call. Being able to see exactly what happened at a call not only could help prove innocence or guilt, but also show if the officer acted properly. The other benefit of the body cam is that if a person knows that their actions are being taped, they are less likely to get violent against the officer.
What do you think can be done to lower the amount of law enforcement killings?
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