Police officer fatalities: facts and figures

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

In five years, 565 law enforcements workers died in work-related incidents. Most of them were police officers. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s website is an excellent source for detailed reports.

The general statistics are also provided by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

According to the data available, there are two main fatality causes.  The most common cause is shooting (by other people, excluding suicides), with 196 cases. Roadway incidents are also very common, with 183 cases.

The good news is that there are small, but statistically significant, negative trends for both types of incidents. Actually, both numbers reached their historic lows recently. In 2013, only 33 fatal roadway incidents occurred, and 26 officers were shot.

Leading causes of law enforcement workers’ deaths. 2003-2015

Important note: there was a change in the event classification in 2011. We’ve done our best to replicate the newer classification.

Firearms are also the main means of suicide among the officers (40 deaths out of 43 total).

Here’s a map showing the detailed numbers for each state based on the data since 2011.

Officer fatalities per 100,000 people per year

There's (luckily) not much data for any statistical conclusions. For example, there were only nine incidents in Colorado, which has one of the highest fatality rates.

It's worth noting, however, that New York has some of the safest police officer jobs in the country. The number of firearms-related officer fatalities is especially low here, in part due to the very strict gun laws.


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About Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Andrey Kamenov is a data scientist working for Advameg Inc. His background includes teaching statistics, stochastic processes and financial mathematics in Moscow State University and working for a hedge fund. His academic interests range from statistical data analysis to optimal stopping theory. Andrey also enjoys his hobbies of photography, reading and powerlifting.

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