Just how dangerous is it to be a police officer?

Answer

According to a recent Washington Post article, 2015 "will go down in the record books as one of the safest for police officers in recorded history." Police often cite fear for their personal safety as a reason for deploying violent, even lethal, force against members of the public. To be sure, policing is not the safest job in America. But how dangerous is it in reality?

Through the years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has repeatedly shown that policing is a relatively safe profession. In 2012, the fatal injury rate for "police and sheriff's patrol officers," or the number of fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, was 15.0.  However, that figure includes all causes of death. Of the 150 officer deaths reported in 2012, only 51 were attributed to "violence and other injuries by persons or animals." Nearly as many, 48, died in car accidents.

To put the "risk of the job" talk in perspective, here are some occupations with higher fatality rates than law enforcement:

  1. Logging workers: 129.9
  2. Fishers and related fishing workers: 120.8
  3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: 54.3
  4. Roofers: 42.2
  5. Structural iron and steel workers: 37.0
  6. Refuse and recyclable materials collectors: 32.3
  7. Drivers/sales workers, truck drivers: 24.3
  8. Electrical power-line installers and repair: 23.9
  9. Farmers, ranchers, agricultural managers: 22.8
  10. Construction laborers: 17.5
  11. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 16.2
  12. Maintenance and repair workers, general: 15.2

 


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