A recently published FBI report accidentally proves that while the police claim cops face growing threats from rowdy populations–like in Ferguson–the opposite is true. The report presents law enforcement deaths in 2013.
The report found that across the entire country, only 76 LEOs were killed in “line-of-duty” incidents. 27 died as a result of “felonious” acts and 49 officers died in accidents–namely, automobile (ironically, of the 23 killed in car accidents, 14 were not wearing seat belts–a violation for which cops routinely ticket drivers). More officers die from accidents than actual murders on the job. The report also outright admits that intentional murders of cops were down from 2004 and 2009.
Further, 49,851 officers were assaulted–a statistic that seemingly proves police are at risk. 29.2%, or 14,556, were actually injured (an admittedly high number). Still, a suspect fact is that 79.8% of the time, “assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.).” This means that in a vast majority of cases, there was no physical evidence that assault occurred (outside of potential bruises and cuts, but this information is not public). Punches and kicks can be damaging, but nowhere near firearms and knives, which constituted a very small percentage of “assaults.” The report also does not specify what constitutes an “injury,” making designations of injury potentially arbitrary and subjective.
This means that the common police tactic of misrepresenting scuffles and charging people with assault could be at work (such as when a cop squeezed the breast of an Occupy protester so hard he left a bruise and in the chaos, she accidentally elbowed a cop. She went to jail for “assaulting” an officer). Of course, it’s a possibility that all 49,851 officers were simply “doing their jobs,” but at the very least it is important to be skeptical.
But besides direct contradictions to the logic behind institutional myths of heroic cops and dangerous bad guys, what are the implications of this FBI report?
First, that police are schizophrenic in their belief that they are in danger (this fear is proven in the recent Ferguson protests and presence of the National Guard). The overzealous militarization of local cops is enough to prove that they might as well be hiding under blankies from the American populace in spite of the fact that violent crime has been dropping for decades.
However, considering how well cops are armed and how efficiently the justice system protects them from prosecution for their crimes, they prove to be paranoid. 27 police officers in a country with over 300 million people died last year. Law enforcement deaths-by-murder are included in the 49,851 “assaults” against officers, which means that .05 (half a percent) died as a result of alleged attacks. Crime against cops has dropped to a 50 year low. It’s more dangerous to drive a car than be a cop (this is bolstered by the fact that the number of cops who died in car accidents almost equals the total number of cops murdered–23 to 27).
Second, militarization is working for the police. It is not working for the rest of us. Though there is little reliable, official data about the number of people police kill every year, tenuous reports claim it is around 400. This is already almost 15 times more than the police who are intentionally killed. However, the 400 figure is a result of 17,000 local police agencies being allowed to self-report. The numbers could be far higher.
“That count only includes homicides that occurred during the commission of a felony. This total doesn’t include justifiable homicides committed by police officers against people not committing felonies and also doesn’t include homicides found to be not justifiable. But still, this severe undercount far outpaces the number of cops killed by civilians.”
The number of “justifiable” homicides was on the rise in 2008 (to be fair, it was rising among private citizens as well) in spite of the inconvenient fact that overall crime has been declining.
Unfortunately, the most important implication of the FBI report is a simple fact that the report exists. When the FBI takes the time to construct a meticulous report (you can read more details here) of all the ways that a tiny percentage of cops were killed–but cannot be bothered to officially count civilian deaths at the hands of cops, the reality is obvious:
The government places a higher priority on their own than on the lives of those they claim to “serve,” “protect,” and “work for.” It cares more about exonerating the police of their crimes than providing justice to those they abuse. There is no justice when the criminal is the cop.