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May 11, 2015

Is Obama's Rhetoric Leading To More Police Deaths?

The FBI released it's annual report on police officers killed in the commission of felonies (this doesn't include officer deaths due to things like traffic accidents or health issues such as heart attacks while on duty). There's a screaming headline from the report that may lead you to think so.

Preliminary statistics released today by the FBI show that 51 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2014. This is an increase of almost 89 percent when compared to the 27 officers killed in 2013.

Whoa. An 89% increase? Obama and Holder have a lot of cop blood on their hands!

Well, no.

It turns out that 2013 was thankfully an incredibly safe (and anomalous) year for officers. "Only" 21 were killed by felonious means such as firearms, knifes, physical assault, etc.

Well, maybe the trend had been going down and 2014 represents a reversal? Nope. On average 61 officers were killed in this category from 1980 to 2014. I can't find a complete list of them by year but I did some random searches for this same report and found 2014 numbers were comparable with other years.

In 2012 the number was 48.

In 2010 is was 56.

In 2002 the number was 56 and 2003 it was 52.

So far this year 11 officers have died as the result of "gunfire" and "assault" (including two over the weekend in Mississippi). Given that we are nearly halfway through the year it's hard to say there's been a massive uptick in this type of tragedy. Perhaps historically these deaths aren't traditionally evenly spread out over the year and we will see an increase in the coming months. At this point though, it's hard to say there's a spike.

In the modern media age it can be very hard to tell if something is happening more frequently or are we we just hearing more about it? The hysteria over the supposed epidemic of children being abducted is a case in point.

Are there legitimate complaints about the nature of policing in some areas and the treatment officers receive in the judicial system? I certainly think so.

Is police work a dangerous and vital job most of us wouldn't and couldn't do well? Absolutely.

You don't have to like Obama's rhetoric and approach to these issues, I don't. But just because it "feels" like more terrible things are happening doesn't mean they are.

As we work our way through these issues at every level of society and government, it's important we deal in facts, not scare headlines and emotionally satisfying laying of blame.

*I changed the headline to better reflect the thrust of the post.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:39 AM

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