Objective To understand the circumstances surrounding the occupational homicides of law enforcement officers (LEOs) in the USA.
Methods Narrative text analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted reports.
Results A total of 796 officers were killed in the line of duty between 1996 and 2010. The occupational homicide rate during the time peaked in 2001 at 3.76/100 000 (excluding those killed during the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks), and was lowest in 2008 at 1.92/100 000. Most LEOs (67%) were killed by short-barrel firearms; 10% were killed with their own service weapon. The most frequent encounter with a suspect prior to a homicide was responding to a disturbance call.
Conclusions These results should inform officer training and the policies, as well as procedures used when interacting with suspects, especially when firearms are involved.
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