Skip to comments.Vehicles kill more officers than guns
Posted on 12/12/2004 9:54:54 AM PST by flutters
The deadliest weapon law-enforcement officers face isnt a gun.
Its a moving vehicle.
Columbus Police Officer Melissa M. Fosters death in a traffic crash on Dec. 4 is the latest reminder of the dangers officers encounter on the road.
In the past decade, traffic-related incidents have overtaken gunshots as the leading cause of officer deaths in the United States.
"That would probably come as a shock to most citizens," said Craig Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that tracks the number of officers killed in the line of duty.
Of the more than 16,600 officer deaths in the United States since 1792, 63 percent were attributed to gunshot wounds.
But the numbers are shifting, particularly in the past five years. From 1999 through 2003, 44 percent of officer deaths were traffic-related; 34 percent were caused by firearms.
Less-common causes include heart attacks, drownings, falls and stabbings.
Floyd said the widespread use of bullet-resistant vests has reduced the number of officers killed by guns.
"We have focused a lot of attention on reducing firearm-related deaths," he said. "What we have not done enough of is training officers in high- speed driving and defensivedriving techniques."
Lack of training does not appear to be an issue in Fosters death. She was driving south on Gender Road, responding to a report of a prowler, when a northbound pickup crossed the center line and struck her cruiser head-on.
The other driver, Jacob Harper, 32, of Buckeye Lake, faces two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. Police say he was driving drunk.
Of the 52 police officers killed in the line of duty in the citys history, half were shot. But the last four and 9 of the last 13 were fatally injured in traffic incidents.
Two were struck by cars while out of their cruisers.
Among the most vulnerable are those who serve on the citys freeway patrol.
Officer Dave Daugherty, a 10-year veteran of the unit, said his cruisers have been struck seven times, putting him in the hospital three times.
"When we make a traffic stop and approach a car, we worry more about being run over than we do about being shot," he said.
Daugherty said motorists seem unaware of a state law that requires them to slow down and move over when an emergency vehicle is stopped.
"Drivers dont slow down, and they dont move over," he said.
Troopers with the State Highway Patrol face the same dangers.
Of the 35 state troopers killed in the line of duty, 29 died in cruiser, motorcycle or pedestrian incidents.
"Troopers have to keep one eye on the violator while constantly looking over their shoulder at traffic," said Lt. Rick Zwayer, a patrol spokesman.
The patrols Web site www.statepatrol.ohio.gov provides dramatic videos, under the sites "Newsroom" heading, of cruisers and cars being slammed from behind, with troopers standing beside them, while parked along highway berms.
The Franklin County sheriffs office has lost four deputies in the line of duty. The last two died in traffic incidents.
"Its the nature of the job," said Sgt. Karl Booth, of the offices traffic bureau. "Were put in dangerous situations every day of driving with emergency lights and sirens in all kinds of conditions and getting out of our vehicles in traffic."
The good news, Floyd said, is that the on-duty death rate for officers is on the decline.
In the 1970s, officers were killed at a rate of about one in 1,500, he said. Today, the rate is about one in 6,000.
"There are more officers than ever, and they are betterequipped and better-trained than ever," he said. "But we still lose an average of 167 officers a year. The numbers are still very shocking."
"...Of the more than 16,600 officer deaths in the United States since 1792,
63 percent were attributed to gunshot wounds...."
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I am really surprised they have been keeping statistics on this for so long.
Let's ban all vehicles. LOL
Yet another gun-banning myth exposed...
Coming up next; an assault car ban.
Naw, they'll just start with the most deadly ones first.
Duh. It's those crazed SUV's. They are out of control and killing everyone!
That's sad. People drive like dopes ... and too many officers don't wear seat belts.
How many get killed while riding bicycles on patrol?
It is sad. For the life of me, I can't figure out why people won't get over when they see a police car or emergency vehicle.
Just Friday, as I was coming home from work, an ambulance was trying to get through traffic. Some people refused to move over. Unbelievable! I hope the people that do this never needs to be transported or have emergency services come to their aide.
I don't know. I'm sure there is a website or agency somewhere that keeps track of that information. If I come across it, I'll ping you.