Report: 12% of Law Enforcement Officers Were Assaulted While On Duty in 2020


By Bethany Blankley (The Central Square)

Nearly 12% of police officers were assaulted while on duty in 2020, based on annual state level data collected by the FBI. Alaska reported the highest percentage, California the highest number.

A total of 60,105 officers were assaulted across the country, with the overwhelming majority being assaulted and injured by the hands and feet of assailants.

Nationally, 26% of assaults in 2020 involved a deadly weapon other than a firearm; 5% involved a firearm.

California and Texas had the most officers shot in 2020: 379 and 300, respectively, less than one-half of one percent of their entire force.

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The report was based on the most recent available data from 2020 on 505,212 officers, or 72.5% of all police officers nationwide.

Not all law enforcement agencies reported assault data to the FBI; nine states with limited statistical data were excluded from the report.

The two largest states, Alaska (by area) and California (by population) reported the highest percentage and number of assaults, respectively. Nearly two-thirds of Alaska officers — 813 of 1,259, or 64.6% — were assaulted, according to the data. While California reported that a much smaller percentage of its officers were assaulted (16.2% compared to Alaska), far more California officers were assaulted, 11,599 out of a total force of 71,668.

After Alaska, the highest percentage of officers assaulted were recorded in Montana, 34.2%, South Dakota, 32.9%, District of Columbia, 28.2%, and Arizona, 27.5%.

West Virginia is the only state that reported zero percent. Michigan had the next lowest percentage of 0.8%, followed by Ohio (3.2%), New Jersey (4.2%), Louisiana (4.8%) and Arkansas (7.1%).

“If you break attacks down by region, the West had the highest rate in the country at 18%,” Christian Worstell, author of a new HelpAdvisor. study who analyzed the FBI data, he said.

However, the states with the largest populations, California, Texas and Florida, which have the largest number of police officers, also reported the highest number of assaults.

Florida had the second highest number of law enforcement officers assaulted on the job at 5,711. Of a total force of 41,898 in 2020, those attacked represent 13.6% of the total number of agents.

Texas had the third highest number: 5,359 of 50,845, or 10.5%.

Assault data refers to weapons used by criminals that could have caused injury or death to an officer.

Most of the agents were attacked by the hands or feet of the aggressors, 73.9%, which means that they were probably hit, punched or kicked. About a quarter of these attacks resulted in injuries.

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The next highest percentage, 19.6%, were assaulted with a dangerous weapon other than a firearm.

About 4.6% were attacked with a firearm; and about 2% with a knife or other sharp instrument.

“Officers assigned to an officer’s patrol vehicles are at the highest risk of assault,” notes HelpAdvisor. Nearly two-thirds of those assaulted, 63.4%, were assigned to an officer’s patrol at the time of the assault.

The next highest percentage of those injured during the assault, 16.8%, were assigned to other duties, followed by those assigned to a two-agent patrol, 16.2%, and those on detective or special assignments, 3, 6%.

Most of the officers attacked were not injured, but 31% were. Among them, 25.8% were injured in the hands and feet of the aggressors; 16.8% for a dangerous weapon other than a firearm, 9.7% for a knife or cutting instrument, and 6.1% for a firearm.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program collects monthly data on assaults on sworn federal, state, local, tribal, college, and county law enforcement officers. The information is sent by the respective agencies through their state programs or directly to the FBI.

The 2020 data was provided by 9,895 law enforcement agencies whose officers serve more than 235.5 million people, or 71.5% of the population.

Distributed with permission from The Center Square.

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