How to Prevent Officer Deaths in High-Risk Scenarios

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When responding to high-risk calls—including domestic violence situations and incidents involving emotionally disturbed individuals—police officers should wear adequate body armor and avoid responding alone, according a new study commissioned by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the U.S. Department of Justice. The study analyzes data on use of firearms against police officers to determine what policies and practices will reduce the likelihood officers will be killed or injured.

“A growing number of officer ambushes has been reported in recent years, and these reports have raised substantial concerns about officer safety, body armor, situational awareness training, and other factors,” write authors Joseph Kuhns, Diana Dolliver, Emily Bent, and Edward Maguire. “As an initial step, identification, evaluation, and expansion of best practices within current training academies and curricula are important.”

The study is based on an analysis of data collected by the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) program 2007 and 2011. During that time period, 1,926 agencies reported at least one firearms assault against a police officer—and within those agencies there were 148 officer deaths as a result of firearm violence and 1,104 incidents that resulted in officer injury.

But the authors recommend that more research focus on the 10,148 firearm incidents that did not result in an officer being injured in order to reduce the potential for future fatalities.

“We need to understand where, why, and under what conditions those shots were fired and to take active steps to reduce the frequency of those conditions while also seeking to reduce the number of officer deaths,” they write.

Read the study HERE.

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