The Myth of the Hero Cop

Jobs more dangerous than being a police officer

 We frequently hear police officers whine how dangerous their jobs are, using guilt as a motivator to extract support for increased pay or protection from consequences of officer misconduct.

 After September 11 2001, it became almost impossible to criticize police officer’s misbehavior without prefacing comments with genuflections toward officer’s relative “heroism.” “They risk their lives for us every day,” was the common refrain. They also knew what type of work they were getting into when they sign up.

Police officers’ jobs are more dangerous than most — 13.3 officers per 100,000 die on the job annually compared with 3.5 per 100,000, which is the national average for all occupations.  Many other common jobs are much more dangerous than a police officer including groundskeepers, garbage collectors, farmers, airline pilots, construction workers and truck drivers.

Police officers are trained to approach potential threats with overwhelming force, and are outfitted with numerous safety technologies such as (body armor, high powered weapons, training, multiple officers provide backup frequently even for routine traffic stops, etc.) that makes their on-the-job deaths much less likely than groundskeepers or garbage collectors. And harsh punishment for cop killers — both ill treatment while in official hands and the threat of capital punishment – creates dramatic incentives even for the worst bad guys to avoid killing a police officer.

Occupations more dangerous than being a police officer

Number of deaths per 100,000 employed Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics-Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

Here’s a list compiled from federal sources concerning the relative danger of several jobs with higher-than-average fatality rates than police officers.

Top 10 most dangerous jobs in America in 2017

(1) Logging workers: 135.9
(2) Fishermen: 86.0
(3) Aircraft pilots: 55.5
(4) Roofers: 48.6
(5) Garbage collectors: 34.1
(6) Structural Iron and Steel workers: 25.1
(7) Truck drivers: 24.7
(8) Farmers and ranchers: 23.1
(9) Construction workers: 18.0
(10) Grounds maintenance/Landscaping: 17.4
Taxi drivers: 15.1
* Police officers: 14.6
Bartenders: 13.2
Oil and gas extraction: 11.6
Welders: 10.7
Electricians: 8.2
Gas station attendant: 6.6
Auto mechanics: 5.1
Newspaper publishers: 4.8
Carpenters: 4.7
Janitors: 3.1
Retail sales: 1.7

  * A high percentage of police officers deaths are contributed to suicide and car fatalities “not wearing a seat belt.”

Law enforcement officers killed
There are approximately 813,000 law enforcement officers in the U.S.. This includes local, state and federal.
Number of police officers killed by year:
1973 – 274
1974 – 280
2001 – 242
2007 – 204
2008 – 154
2009 -131
2010 -164
2011 – 176
2012 – 135
2013 – 116
2014 – 133
2015 – 135
2016 – 140
2017 – 128
The number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty dropped sharply in 2017, marking the second-lowest toll in more than 50 years.
Leading cause of death of police officers:
 #1 – 108 police officers committed suicide.
#2 – 66 police officers shot and killed.
#3 – 54 police officers died in car accidents “not wearing seat belts.”
#1 – 140 police officers committed suicide.
#2 – 47 police officers died in car accidents “not wearing seat belts.”
#3 –  44 police officers shot and killed.
 Out of the 809,000 police officers that were killed in the last 5 years, the percentage of deaths is .05% of workers for that type of occupation. In 2017 the percentage of law enforcement officers killed is .01% for “on the job” death’s.
~ Source: FBI Website and Bureau of Labor Statistics ~