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Live to Fight Another Day

Officer Down stats for 2009 underscore the need for all LEOs to reinforce their officer safety and survival skills.

January 05, 2010  |  by Robert O'Brien - Also by this author

However, deaths alone don't show the entire picture when it comes to dangers faced by law enforcement. We also need to consider LEO assaults and injuries. Here are the most recent figures from NLEOMF for LEO deaths, assaults, and injuries for the decade of 1999 to 2008:

  • 164 average deaths - 1,640 total deaths.
  • 58,659 average assaults - 586,590 total assaults.
  • 16,188 average injuries - 161,876 total injuries.

These are staggering numbers, made even more mind boggling when you consider that each "statistic" happens to be a member of law enforcement - one of "us." I know of very few LEOs I've met over the years who haven't been assaulted or injured - or both.

And tragically, many of us know (too) many good law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while wearing the badge of our honorable profession. Ours is a profession where regardless whether we personally know fallen officers, they are still our brothers and sisters - and we feel the loss the same as though they belonged to our own agency.

I also need to mention our Canadian law enforcement brothers and sisters who staunchly support American LE, as evidenced by the more than 1,000 RCMP officers who participated in the funeral service for the four slain Lakewood, Wash., officers.

According to the latest figures on the Officer Down Memorial Page, a total of 107 Canadian LE officers died in the line of duty during 1999 - 2009. A high number for a nation with a far smaller population than America.

One particularly disturbing Canadian LE death was the unprovoked 2009 knife slashing murder of an Ottawa officer. The deadliest years of the decade were 2002 with 12 deaths and 2005 with 11 - when four RCMP officers were shot and killed in a single incident in Alberta.

2010 - the start of a new year and new decade - and a good time to renew our Officer Survival vow - to do our utmost to survive any and all challenges the mean streets throw at us now, and also into the future.

In upcoming blogs, I will be writing more about Officer Survival - strategies, tactics. And whether we're at the beginning stage of a disturbing new trend - deliberately targeting LEO's for deadly attacks. The last time this happened was the 1970s, when law enforcement was targeted by militants and radicals at the cost of many LEO lives.

I welcome any and all, comments, questions, and discussion about the most important challenge facing law enforcement officers - surviving your careers to be able to enjoy the retirement you have earned through dedication, sacrifice, and all too often, your blood.

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