Shootings and homicides

Recent analysis of CDC data shows that US shootings have trended more sharply upward than homicides since 2004. In other words, more people shot but fewer have died. The percentage of total people shot who died dropped from 33.9% in 2002 to 28.7% in 2008. Presumably this reflects continued advancements in trauma medicine.

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3 Responses to “Shootings and homicides”

  1. Ed Brodt Says:

    I have been in several discussions about this in the last month or so. It generally starts out by someone saying how much more dangerous it is these days (the last couple of years) and they cite the percentage of increase in police being killed in shooting assaults.

    While one is too many….I tend to question whether it is really that much more dangerous. Percentage wise it sounds really bad, however the raw numbers are still what I would consider generally low when you take into account how many officers are out there engaging citizens on a daily basis.

    I also wonder what the trend would look like if we factored in how many officers there are. In other words if the US in 2000 had 1 million officers and we had 50 killed in assaults and in 2010 we had 1.5 million officers and we had 55 killed in assaults that would be an increase in deaths. However that would not necessarily translate into it being more dangerous. It might just mean that by adding 500,000 officers we increased the opportunity for an assault to occur. I haven’t seen any articles or studies that really try to analyze this beyond percentage comparisons.

  2. Gary Cordner Says:

    Thanks Ed. To clarify the initial news item, it refers to all homicides in the U.S. (not police-related). But your point is an important one. According to NLEOMF (see http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/year.html), the peak year for officers killed in the U.S. was, believe it or not, 1930. The whole period 1921-1935 had 200+ officers killed per year. Then deaths declined, and didn’t reach 200 per year again until 1970. The worst 2-year period in our history was 1973-74. Then the numbers basically declined steadily until 2001 (up dramatically that year due to 9/11), and have been bouncing around since then.

    Those are raw numbers. Your point is that we should also look at the rate, i.e. take into consideration how many police officers were employed each year. I’ll look into that. I’m sure there were a whole lot less police officers in the 1920s and 1930s than we have today, so the chances of an officer getting killed in the line of duty back then were even greater than they look based on the raw numbers.

    • Ed Brodt Says:

      Oops…sorry about that….misinterpreted the article. Having sat through a couple of large discussion groups on this police assault issue I also can see how this ties into the militarization topic. When we feel like we are under assault it affects how we see and do our jobs. It can and does lead to a bunker mentality.

      I know better than most what can happen out there, but I also know that those events are truly rare in the big scheme of things. I just think if we are going to discuss whether it is more dangerous than in the past we need to look at the whole picture and understand how our perceptions of an issue can impact how we go about providing police services.

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