Occupational Homicides of Law Enforcement Officers, 2003–2013
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Occupational Homicides of Law Enforcement Officers, 2003–2013

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  • Alternative Title:
    Am J Prev Med
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    Law enforcement officers (LEOs) in the U.S. are at an increased risk for homicide. The purpose of this study is to describe the characteristics of homicides of LEOs in 17 U.S. states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System. This active surveillance system uses data from death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, and law enforcement reports.


    This study used quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze National Violent Death Reporting System data for 2003–2013. Deaths of LEOs feloniously killed in the line of duty were selected for analysis. LEO homicides and the circumstances preceding or occurring during the incident were characterized. Analyses were conducted October 2015–June 2016.


    A total of 128 officer homicides from 121 incidents were identified. Most (93.7%) LEO victims were male, 60.9% were aged 30–49 years (average age, 40.9 years). Approximately 21.9% of LEOs were killed during an ambush, and 19.5% were killed during traffic stops or pursuits. Of the 14.1% of LEOs killed responding to domestic disturbances, most disturbances were intimate partner violence related. More than half (57.0%) of homicides were precipitated by another crime, and of these, 71.2% involved crimes in progress. Most suspects were male. Ninety-one percent of homicides of LEOs were committed with a firearm.


    This information is critical to help describe encounter situations faced by LEOs. The results of this study can be used to help educate and train LEOs on hazards, inform prevention efforts designed to promote LEO safety, and prevent homicide among this population.

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