A few other media outlets are now picking up on the massive drop in police fatality statistics this year. (Welcome to the story!) But so far, none of them have questioned what happened to all of those alleged trends (gun ownership, increasing contempt for cops, videotaping of police misconduct, anti-government sentiment, decreases in funding for police departments) that they all reported were behind the non-existent “war on cops” they were all reporting last year. Or in the case of the New York Times, as recently as April.
If we use the numbers from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, there are 800,000 cops on the streets. There have been 53 on-the -job fatalities so far this year. But 21 of those were car accidents. There have been 19 firearms homicides against police. I looked through the descriptions of this year’s officer deaths at the NLEMF page. Two of the fatalities were from firearms injuries sustained in previous years (in one case, 30 years ago). That puts us at 17 for this year. I then looked through the 13 deaths classified as “other.” Four of those appear to have been homicides—three stabbings, and one officer who died from a blot clot resulting from an altercation with an inmate. So let’s add those to our 17. That gives us 21 homicides in the first half of 2012. (I’ll go ahead and count the two officers killed during SWAT-like drug raids, even though it’s possible the tactics themselvesmay have contributed to the officers’ deaths.)
By my math, that gives us a homicide rate of 5.25 per 100,000 officers. That’s not only a 50-year low, it’s only a tiny bit above America’s overall homicide rate of 4.8. It’s also lower than the 2010 murder rates in 20 states. So in just a year, or just three months by the New York Times’ reckoning, all of these trends driving up violence against cops not only diminished, they practically vanished, to the point where we seeing historic low rates of police homicides.
And how are the police organizations reacting to these figures?