Police officers are getting shot more than 20 percent more often in 2019 than the year before with 267 officers shot in the line of duty by Dec. 1 this year, according to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), a 350,000-strong national police membership organisation.
“The numbers are staggering and should concern every American,” the FOP said in a Dec. 2 tweet. “There is an officer shot every 30 hours in the US … Violence towards men/women who protect our communities must end and should be condemned by all!”
The shootings include both fatal and non-fatal ones.
Over the past decade, deadly shootings of police officers have remained roughly level, averaging about 51 a year with 45 shot dead so far this year (excluding one inadvertent shooting fatality), according to a tally run by the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP).
In October 2015, however, the FOP started to track non-fatal shootings too.
“We realized that we had a lot of information about officers who were shot and killed in the line of duty, but almost [no] information about officers who were shot and survived,” said FOP National President Patrick Yoes in an Oct. 11 release. “Using our own limited resources, we were able to compile raw numbers which showed that, even in years when the number of officers killed by gunfire had gone down, the number of officers shot had gone up each year. The stark reality is that advancements in medical science and anti-ballistic technology are making these events more survivable.”
The FOP determined that 253 officers were shot in 2016 and 271 in 2017 (pdf). In 2018, the number dropped to 251. This year, it’s already close to a record high, with still a month to go.
On Dec. 7, Houston police sergeant Christopher Brewster was shot dead while responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Despite his wounds, Brewster managed to draw his own weapon and radio other responding officers to provide a description of the suspect that was “critical” in his apprehension, police chief Art Acevedo told a press conference.
The day before, Alabama police officer and drug task force agent Billy Clardy III was shot in the heart in a drug-related operation and died at a hospital, Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray said during a news conference.
The suspect “drew a gun and immediately fired on the officer,” McMurray said. The bullet managed to get through his bulletproof vest.
Clardy was already the sixth officer in the state slain in the line of duty this year. Alabama hasn’t seen so many police gunfire deaths since 1964, according to ODMP statistics.
Of the last year’s shooting incidents, 72 took place during disturbance calls and 39 during traffic stops. Those accounted for more than half of all shooting incidents and resulted in 22 officer deaths, according to data from the National Blue Alert Network (pdf).