- There are more than 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States, which is the highest figure ever. About 12 percent of those are female.
- Crime fighting has taken its toll. Since the first recorded police death in 1786, there have been more than 22,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Currently, there are 22,217 names engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
- A total of 1,627 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years, an average of one death every 54 hours or 163 per year. There were 135 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2019.
- An average of around 50 officers are shot and killed by civilians every year.
- According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report 2018 LEOKA report:
There have been 58,866 assaults against law enforcement officers in 2018, resulting in 18,005 injuries.
- The 1920s were the deadliest decade in law enforcement history, when a total of 2,517 officers died, or an average of almost 252 each year. The deadliest year in law enforcement history was 1930, when 312 officers were killed. That figure dropped dramatically in the 1990s, to an average of 163 per year.
- The deadliest day in law enforcement history was September 11, 2001, when 72 officers were killed while responding to the terrorist attacks on America.
- The New York City Police Department has lost more officers in the line of duty than any other department, with 941 deaths. Texas has lost 1,772 officers, more than any other state. The state with the fewest deaths is Vermont, with 24.
- There are 1,181 federal officers listed on the Memorial, as well as 720 correctional officers and 44 military law enforcement officers.
- There are 365 female officers listed on the Memorial; 11 female officers were killed in 2019.
- Since 2015, police have shot and killed an average of 3 people per day.
- The number of fatal shootings has totaled nearly 1,000 every year, but the number fluctuates. Since 2015, there have been three months when police have killed 100 or more people. March 2018 was the deadliest.
- Nationwide, there are about 18,000 law enforcement agencies. Since 2015, most of those agencies have not shot and killed anyone. Of the 2,500 that did, 1,700 agencies shot and killed only one person. The 20 departments with the most fatal shootings are primarily located in urban areas.
- The vast majority of people shot and killed by police are armed.
- Nearly six in 10 people shot and killed by police had a gun. Many others were armed with a knife or other weapon. However, determining the threat posed by a weapon can be tricky. For example, 155 people killed by police since 2015 were found after the shooting to be wielding toy guns.
- Recognizing that ‘lethal force’ does not always involve a gun and doesn’t always result in death, two other media organizations expanded on this approach. In 2015 and 2016, UK newspaper The Guardian combined its original reporting with crowdsourced information to record all fatal encounters with the police in the United States, and found around 1,100 civilian deaths per year. Online news site VICE News obtained data on both fatal and non-fatal shootings from the country’s 50 largest local police departments, finding that for every person shot and killed between 2010 and 2016, officers shot at two more people who survived.
- Extrapolating from that, the actual number of civilians shot by the police each year is likely to be upwards of 3,000.
- Terry Goldsworthy, a criminologist at Bond University in Queensland, Australia, highlights one potential explanation for the difference: a stark contrast in the attitude towards and availability of guns. “Generally, when a police officer pulls up to a car in Australia, they don’t expect someone to be armed,” he says.
- Australia keeps a tally of its approximately five civilian deaths at the hands of the police per year, using a central government database. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, an independent inquiry is initiated every time a police officer is involved in a shooting.
Murder/Crime by Race
- According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans accounted for 52.5% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008, with Whites 45.3% and “Other” 2.2%. The offending rate for African Americans was almost 8 times higher than Whites, and the victim rate 6 times higher. Most homicides were intraracial, with 84% of White victims killed by Whites, and 93% of African American victims were killed by African Americans.
- In 2013, African Americans accounted for 52.2% of all murder arrests, with Whites 45.3% and Asians/Native Americans 2.5%. Of the above, 21.7% were Hispanic.
- Blacks account for the majority of gun homicide victims/arrestees in the US while Whites account for the vast majority of non-gun homicide victims/arrestees.
- Among the nation’s largest cities, Chicago stands out for both its high murder rate and for the number of its murders that go unsolved. In recent years the police have been solving about 4 of every 10 murders in the city, but police data show the rate is even worse when the victim is African American
- The data, obtained by WBEZ under Illinois’ open-records law, show the city had 849 murders between the beginning of 2018 and this past July. When the victim was white, 47% of the cases were solved during those same 19 months. For Hispanics, the rate was about 33%. When the victim was African American, it was less than 22%.
- The statistics show that the 500 killings of white people attributed to blacks last year were the most since black perpetrators were determined to be responsible for the homicides of 504 white people nationwide in 2008. Last year’s total was up 12 percent from the 446 recorded in 2014 and 22 percent from the 409 seen in 2013, a year that saw the lowest total this century and one that capped seven years of general declines in black-on-white homicides. Prior to that, 2006 saw the most black-on-white killings since 2001, with 573.
- The 229 black lives taken by white killers last year, however, marked an even larger leap from 2014, jumping more than 22 percent from the 187 black victims killed by whites that year, which was the second-lowest total since 2001. The tally was last exceeded in 2008, when 230 blacks were slain by whites. The highest total in the last 15 years came in 2007, when 245 black people were killed by whites.
Blacks have long outnumbered whites in U.S. prisons. But a significant decline in the number of black prisoners has steadily narrowed the gap over the past decade, according to new data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
At the end of 2017, federal and state prisons in the United States held about 475,900 inmates who were black and 436,500 who were white – a difference of 39,400, according to BJS. Ten years earlier, there were 592,900 black and 499,800 white prisoners – a difference of 93,100. (This analysis counts only inmates sentenced to more than a year.) The decline in the black-white gap between 2007 and 2017 was driven by a 20% decrease in the number of black inmates, which outpaced a 13% decrease in the number of white inmates.
The racial and ethnic makeup of U.S. prisons continues to look substantially different from the demographics of the country as a whole. In 2017, blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population but 33% of the sentenced prison population. Whites accounted for 64% of adults but 30% of prisoners. And while Hispanics represented 16% of the adult population, they accounted for 23% of inmates.
Another way of considering racial and ethnic differences in the nation’s prison population is by looking at the imprisonment rate, which tallies the number of prisoners per 100,000 people. In 2017, there were 1,549 black prisoners for every 100,000 black adults – nearly six times the imprisonment rate for whites (272 per 100,000).