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Snapshot: During the most recent year of complete data, in 2021 law enforcement suffered... Heading link

  • 73 Officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty.

  • 15,369 Officers suffered injuries from assaults.

  • 73,560 Number of injuries resulting in days away from work from any cause, with 1/3 attributed to COVID.

Law enforcement has been regularly ranked as one of the ten most dangerous occupations in the United States, specifically for correctional and police officers (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). Each existing data system provides a different picture of the risks law enforcement face while on the job.

Department of Justice data estimates that approximately 16,000 officers suffer injuries after being assaulted on the job each year. Of the officers who are assaulted, approximately 53 are feloniously killed by civilians with another 60 killed accidentally (e.g. motor vehicle collisions or being struck by vehicle). Studies have shown that officers are more likely to suffer injuries when they use force (Henriquez, 1999; Smith, 2002; Alpert, 2004).

However, data shows that law enforcement personnel are far more likely to suffer injuries and illnesses through non-violent means while conducting regular job duties. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, 159 law enforcement died on the job, not the 129 reported by the FBI. However, Bureau of Labor Statistics data sources capture both local and state law enforcement personnel. Of the deaths reported on the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (Bureau of Labor Statistics), in 2021 approximately 40% of officer fatalities were caused by assaults/homicides and 40% were caused in transportation incidents.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that 73,560 law enforcement personnel suffered injuries and illnesses that resulted in days away from work in 2020; 89% of these injuries involve two specific groups, (1) bailiffs, correctional officers, and jailers and (2) police officers. The median days away from work ranged between 11-14 days per incident. Our past research evaluating workers’ compensation data show that most of these non-violent injuries are caused by falls, motor vehicle crashes, overexertion, being struck by or caught between/under objects (Holloway, 2016).  The majority of the injuries affect the officers’ extremities and many result in substantial permanent disability.

Available Information Heading link

The surveillance system we developed utilizes multiple data systems which provides clarity and details that no single system contains because of reporting barriers.  Surveillance systems serve as the cornerstone of public health policy by providing timely, representative and accurate data on a given issue.  This helps policy makers prioritize issues.

The Law Enforcement Epidemiology Project at the University of Illinois Chicago provides reports and fact sheets relating to law enforcement safety in four areas:

Enhance Research Methodology

Provide a framework for a comprehensive surveillance system based on existing public health data sources that can be implemented in nearly all U.S. States immediately.  While the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics provide excellent injury data for law enforcement personnel, they are restricted primarily to injuries caused by assaults.  We aim to expand utilization of state workers’ compensation data – First Reports of Injury and Claims Data – in order to provide greater context on motor vehicle safety, ergonomics and other sources of workplace hazards that law enforcement face on a daily basis. Since law enforcement personnel are more likely to suffer workplace injuries through non-violent means, it is critical to evaluate existing systems that provide this data.

Provide Comprehensive Surveillance Data

Provide up to date surveillance data on work related injuries suffered by law enforcement personnel and sources of data for the U.S., Illinois and Cook County-Chicago.

Conduct Novel Research

Conduct novel research on on-duty and off-duty risk factors for injury and illness among law enforcement personnel.

Definitions of Occupational Terminology

Bailiffs, Correctional Officers, and Jailers – jobs are to provide security and control over incarcerated inmates along with searching for contraband such as weapons and drugs, settle disputes between inmates. This line of work puts the correctional officer at an increased probability of physical altercations than say a sheriff whose role does not involve being in constant volatile situations.

Sheriffs’ functions include responding to criminal incidents and calls for service, patrolling neighbors, crime investigation, arrest of criminal suspects, execution of warrants, traffic enforcement, traffic direction and control, accident investigation, drug enforcement, parking enforcement, and crime prevention education.  Although sheriffs’ offices may have countywide responsibilities related to jail operation, process serving, and court security, their law enforcement jurisdictions typically exclude county areas served by a local police department.  In certain counties, municipalities contract with the sheriffs’ office for law enforcement services.

Local law enforcement includes metropolitan police departments and sheriff offices for which their duties include arresting suspects, routine patrol, investigating crimes, enforcing traffic laws, crowd and traffic control, and issuing special permits.  Police are in involved in gunfights, car chases, and acts of violence such as people shooting, stabbing, or beating each other on a daily basis.

State police were created to deal with crime in non-urban settings and the mobility of crime, in order to assist local police with major criminal investigations along with patrolling the state highways.

Other Law Enforcement – transit, special institutional (e.g. Universities), municipal, county, federal, irregular law enforcement, as well as parking enforcement, fish and game wardens.

ICD-10 Coding Note – Security personnel are also often included in “protective services” group and are often included as “officers” in ICD-10 coding.  If your research requires differentiating between private security personnel and sworn officers, you may need to acquire narrative text fields in order to differentiate between these two groups.

Occupational Codes Used by Bureau of Labor Statistics

When using Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys – Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) or the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), we recommend using the following occupational codes to define law enforcement.  These codes exclude private non-sworn security personnel.

33-0000 All Protective Services

33-1000  Supervisors of Protective Service Workers

33-1010  First-Line Supervisors of Law Enforcement Workers

33-1011  First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers

33-1012  First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives

33-3000  Law Enforcement Workers

33-3010  Bailiffs, Correctional Officers, and Jailers

33-3011  Bailiffs

33-3012  Correctional Officers and Jailers

33-3020  Detectives and Criminal Investigators

33-3021  Detectives and Criminal Investigators

33-3030  Fish and Game Wardens

33-3031  Fish and Game Wardens

33-3040  Parking Enforcement Workers

33-3041  Parking Enforcement Workers

33-3050  Police Officers

33-3051  Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

33-3052  Transit and Railroad Police