Law Enforcement is not the most dangerous field of work, but it does require a willingness on the part of police officers to expose themselves to high risk situations. According to the American Police Hall of Fame, on average, a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty every 57 hours in America. While conventional wisdom would suggest that big city cops making drug busts would be in the most danger, the statistics paint a different picture.
Officers in rural areas experience the majority of law enforcement casualties in terms of fatalities as the result of homicide. Rural officers might not have the best equipment, any immediate back-up, or sufficient training, whereas an officer in a larger city might be able to call for immediate reinforcements and may be better prepared for dangerous situations. Additionally, homicides are often related to domestic violence and family-related incidents, and these occur more frequently in rural areas.
Police officers are at more risk of fatalities as a result of traffic accidents, than from fatalities as a result of gun crimes. Patrol officers can get hit by cars while roadside, and high-speed chases are very dangerous, particularly, when officers are not wearing a seat-belt or appropriate body armor. According to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, traffic accidents are the top cause of police officer deaths in the United States.
Special Weapons and Tactics teams
Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams respond to active shooter, hostage, potential suicide and other dangerous situations. In some large cities, SWAT team positions are full-time. In small departments, officers usually volunteer for SWAT duties in addition to their regular jobs as officers. SWAT team members often receive additional training, such as weaponry and sniper techniques.
Iraq and Afghanistan
Police officers have been hired to work in Department of State-sponsored work in Afghanistan and Iraq, to advise the military in investigations and to re-establish the police departments of occupied nations. Police officers in Iraq or Afghanistan will work directly with the U.S. military in investigating criminal activities and the activities of enemies. While these are not military positions, they do require the police officers to be armed and to work in dangerous situations and locations.
- police car up close image by Aaron Kohr from Fotolia.com